As the Preaching Elders of First Baptist Church, it’s good for folks to have a resource for what, why, and how we teach… whether they are guests or long-time members. Contained here are a list of Position Papers.  Each topic is separated in their own tab for easy access.  Please take the time to know more about these topics and our positions regarding them.  



Israel and the Church

How to teach and study the Scriptures

All Scripture is inspired by God and profitable  for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness so that the man of God may be adequate, equipped for every good work.    –2 Timothy 3: 16-17

 1.  Read the Bible systematically.

                 Book by Book, from the beginning of a book to its end.

                 Keep the book and any passage in context of Scripture, history, geography, etc.

                 Who wrote the Book?  To whom?  When?  Why?  What genre is it?


2.  What is the context of the passage?[works only with a literal translation like the KJV, NKJV, RSV, NAS, or NASB] 

  • What is the genre of the book? (historical, narrative, poetry, wisdom, prophecy, letter, etc.)
  • Immediate connecting words within a pericope (literary context)

 Connecting words:

    • If/then = condition
    • for = reason 
    • therefore = conclusion                               
    • and = inclusion, connection      
    • but = contradiction     
    • by = operation             
    • through = conduit
  •  Letter – author/readers/date (historical context)?
  •  and Bible – doctrinal themes (theological context)?

 3.  Who is doing the action (subject) of the passage/verse?

 Specifically, what is God doing in the passage or context?  Use ‘God radar’!


4.  What is the action (verb)?

  •  action: past, present, or future?
  •  action: active or passive?

 5.  What is the result of the action?

  •  direct object, indirect object, related results/outcomes?

 6.  Is there a purpose statement in the pericope/context that tells “Why?” the action was done?


7.  Is there a repetitive theme or word(s) that becomes a thread throughout the passage/book?


8.  After answering all questions above, how must this biblical teaching affect my life?

  •  What is the needed change in my life? 
  •  Are there examples to follow?
  •  Are there commands to obey?
  •  Are there errors to avoid?
  •  Are there sins to forsake?
  •  Are there promises to claim?
  •  Are there new thoughts about God?
  •  Are there principles to live by?


*Hermeneutically, the real question is not, “How does this text apply to me?” but “How do I apply myself to this text?”  This presuppositional change may make all the difference in the world between a man-centered or a God-centered view. 


When I come to Scripture to study . . .


How do I pray?:  IOUS = Incline, Open, Unite, Satisfy


Psalm 119:36 Incline my heart to Your testimonies And not to dishonest gain.


 Psalm 119:18 Open my eyes, that I may behold Wonderful things from Your law.


 Psalm 86:11 Teach me Your way, O LORD; I will walk in Your truth; Unite my heart to fear Your name.


 Isaiah 55:2 “Why do you spend money for what is not bread, And your wages for what does not satisfy? Listen carefully to Me, and eat what is good, And delight yourself in abundance.


 Jeremiah 31:14I will fill the soul of the priests with abundance, And My people will be satisfied with My goodness,” declares the LORD.


Psalm 17:15 As for me, I shall behold Your face in righteousness; I will be satisfied with Your likeness when I awake.



Additional Resources:

Chicago Statement on Biblical Inerrancy

Chicago Statement on Biblical Hermeneutics

Chicago Statement on Biblical Application




Biblical Principles of Worshipful Stewardship

by Dr. Cory Gonyo – Preaching Elder, First Baptist Church of Bettendorf


 “Two things I asked of You [LORD], Do not refuse me before I die:  Keep deception and lies far from me, Give me neither poverty nor riches; Feed me with the food that is my portion, That I not be full and deny You and say, “Who is the LORD?” Or That I not be in want and steal, And profane the name of my God.” 

  – Proverbs 30:7-9


            “Tithe?!  Why?”  What does the LORD want from us concerning our possessions?  Are we missing out on a great blessing if we don’t tithe and give biblically?


Jesus says, “So then, none of you can be My disciple who does not give up all his own possessions” (Luke 14:33).  Can this be love for God to want us to give up our own possessions?  At another time, Jesus speaks to a rich man.  Scripture says, “Looking at him, Jesus felt a love for him and said to him, ‘One thing you lack: go and sell all you possess and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow Me’” (Mark 10:21).


Why did Jesus say this?  What was Jesus’ desire, Jesus’ motivation, for this rich man?  Could it be that we often get it all wrong, thinking that somehow God’s desire should be to bless us with possessions?  Jesus’ desire in this passage was “a love for him.”  Did you see it in the Scripture above?  Jesus asked the man to give up His possessions precisely because He loved him, not because of some mean-spirited desire to deprive him of a single thing. 


Have you known God’s love in His call not to let your life consist of possessions?  Remember another of Jesus’ teachings, “Beware, and be on your guard against every form of greed; for not even when one has an abundance does his life consist of his possessions” (Luke 12:15).


Main Principle of Biblical Stewardship: God is owner of all things!


            The Scriptures teach us that there is no competition for ownership of anything in this world.  It is not as if God wants some and we get the rest.  Actually, the Bible says that: “The earth is the LORD’S, and all it contains, The world, and those who dwell in it” (Ps. 24:1).  Not only is everything in the world the LORD’s, but so is everyone in the world His (though not everyone is saved) because He created all things. 


Concerning giving to God as a religious practice, we must also never see this as some form of paying God back for some blessing or trying to insure His favor with us.  Why?  Because everything in life, even giving, is a matter of pure grace and we can never ‘buy-off’ favor from God (Gal. 2:16). 


Again the LORD’s ownership is supreme and He doesn’t ‘need’ our things: “For every beast of the forest is Mine, The cattle on a thousand hills. I know every bird of the mountains, And  everything that moves in the field is Mine.  If I were hungry I would not tell you, For the world is Mine, and all it contains” (Psalm 50:10-12).  Consider this portion of Paul’s address to the people of Athens:


“The God who made the world and all things in it, since He is Lord of heaven and earth, does not dwell in temples made with hands  nor is He served by human hands, as though He needed anything, since He Himself gives to all people life and breath and all things and He made from one man every nation of mankind to live on all the face of the earth, having determined their appointed times and the boundaries of their habitation, that they would seek God, if perhaps they might grope for Him and find Him, though He is not far from each one of us” (Acts 17:24-27).


            What a tremendous and glorious scriptural ‘dichotomy.’  The LORD of the universe does not need anything from His creation.  Because He is holy (utterly unique in a class by Himself), He does not depend on His creation for anything.  In fact it is creation that depends on God for everything.  Yet at the same time, He invites His created and saved people to join Him in His work of saving sinners through the gospel of Jesus Christ, His death on the cross, and His resurrection.


We must realize that the LORD does not want to ‘take’ from us what we have, but rather He is inviting us to share in what He is already doing.  We must realize we are dependent on Him and not vice versa.  Knowing these things, we will see that stewardship is never giving up of what is “ours” because it is joining God in His eternal work and we always ‘get’ more than we ‘give’.


            When Jesus Christ buys back our lives from certain death, purchasing us with His own blood, He owns us.  All that we are and all that we do and all that we have are His by grace.  We were bought with a price (1 Cor. 6:20; 7:23) and we must realize that we no longer live but Christ lives in us (Gal 2:20).  This being true, we are then encouraged to do everything to glorify Jesus Christ in life so that the gospel will be proclaimed and sinners will be saved (1 Cor. 10:31-33).


More Principles of Biblical Stewardship:
  • The tithe is not a gift, it is God’s by definition (Lev. 27:30), and a gift is above and beyond the tithe (Ex. 35:21-22).  The word “tithe” is literally translated “a tenth.”  Thus, a tenth of one’s first fruits (2 Chron. 31:5) is the tithe and a gift is what comes beyond that.  We can designate gifts, but it is God who has control of His tithe.  To not tithe is to steal from God because the tithe is His by ownership; it is not ours to give back.  Because it is His by ownership, if we keep it we are then stealing (Mal. 3:8-12).
  • Generosity starts with a ‘given-self’ (2 Cor. 8:5).  We will not give to a God we do not love or cherish as our greatest treasure (Matthew 13:44-46).
  • Tithing and giving done in true faith is based on trust in God that He is Provider (Prov. 3:9-10; Mal. 3:10).  Tithing and giving are not about money at all, it is all about our faith in the all-powerful God. 
  • Generosity is stirred by a vision of God’s Kingdom, His will, and our part in His work (2 Cor. 8:3-5).
  • Genuine giving involves managing the entirety of our lifestyles so that we save to give.  Genuine giving begins with seeking God’s Kingdom first (Prov. 30:7-9; Matt. 6:33; 1 Tim. 6:6-10).
  •  God is more interested in the spirit and proportion of our giving rather than the amount (Luke 21:1-4, the widow’s mites).
  •  Stewardship means we will have to account for what we hold that is not ours, including our possessions and even God’s gospel (1 & 2 Tim.), our lives and all things in them given to us by God (Matt. 25:19).  We are saved by grace alone, yet in the judgment we will be rewarded based on our use of God’s gifts to us (Matt. 25:14-46).
  •  God does not need our money/sacrifices (Psalm 50:10-12; Acts 17:25).
  •  All that we have and are is God’s by right, ownership, and sovereignty.  We were bought with a price (1 Cor. 6:20), the tithe is a tenth that goes back to God’s will for use through His church, but the other ninety percent is still His in stewardship to us (Luke 14:26-27, 33!; 1 Cor. 10:31).
  •  Get out of debt, be responsible with what you owe others by paying them off as soon as possible, and strive to owe no one anything except love (Rom. 13:8).
  •  Tithing is an element of worship (2 Chr. 31:4-6; Acts 2:43-47; 1 Cor 16:1-3; 2 Cor. 9:5-11; Phil. 4:15-19).  We show our praise of God and trust in Him when we obey.
  •  We must give out of an attitude of sacrifice, even when we can’t afford to (Luke 21:1-4; 2 Cor. 8:3-5).
  •  I will not give to the LORD what costs me nothing (2 Sam. 24:24-25).
  •  Give cheerfully, with free joy, not under compulsion (2 Cor. 9:7).
  •  Giving above and beyond the tithe is a spiritual gift, given by God for the edification of the body and the building up of the Kingdom (Rom. 12:6-8).  The LORD moves the heart to give generously (Ex. 35:22, 29).
  •  Stewardship is using all that God has given us in appropriate ways.  We must provide for our own, especially those of our own household, lest we be worse than unbelievers (1 Tim. 5:8) and we must be content (1 Tim. 6:3-19).
  •  All giving should be done to the glory of God, and not for the vain praise of men. Giving should be done privately, not for human recognition, but from a heart of faith, trusting that Father God who sees what is done in secret will reward will the giver (Matt. 6:1-4). 


Our goal as children of God then is to be free from the love of money so we can live and serve God according to His grace.  Money can be an idol (Col. 3:5).  We either serve it, or we use it to serve God, but one thing is clear, we cannot serve two masters (Matt. 6:24).  “You cannot serve God and wealth” (Matt. 6:24).  Money finds its proper use in its service to the LORD’s kingdom, to use it otherwise may lead to idolatrous behaviors.  We must learn what it means to build up our treasures in heaven, beginning with the fact that where our treasure is, there our hearts will be also (Matt. 6:20-21).  God wants all that you are.  Let us use the LORD’s gifts, all of them, to further His kingdom in this world to His glory forever, Amen.

 Selected Scriptures (NASB) on Tithing


                Genesis 28:22 “This stone, which I have set up as a pillar, will be God’s house, and of all that You give me I will surely give a tenth to You.”


                Leviticus 27:30-32  ‘Thus all the tithe of the land, of the seed of the land or of the fruit of the tree, is the LORD’S; it is holy to the LORD.   31 ‘If, therefore, a man wishes to redeem part of his tithe, he shall add to it one-fifth of it.  32 ‘For every tenth part of herd or flock, whatever passes under the rod, the tenth one shall be holy to the LORD.


                Deuteronomy 14:22-23 “You shall surely tithe all the produce from what you sow, which comes out of the field every year.  23 “You shall eat in the presence of the LORD your God, at the place where He chooses to establish His name, the tithe of your grain, your new wine, your oil, and the firstborn of your herd and your flock, so that you may learn to fear the LORD your God always.


                Deuteronomy 26:1-2, 10-13 “Then it shall be, when you enter the land which the LORD your God gives you as an inheritance, and you possess it and live in it,  2 that you shall take some of the first of all the produce of the ground which you bring in from your land that the LORD your God gives you, and you shall put it in a basket and go to the place where the LORD your God chooses to establish His name. . .10 ‘Now behold, I have brought the first of the produce of the ground which You, O LORD have given me.’ And you shall set it down before the LORD your God, and worship before the LORD your God;  11 and you and the Levite and the alien who is among you shall rejoice in all the good which the LORD your God has given you and your household.  12 “When you have finished paying all the tithe of your increase in the third year, the year of tithing, then you shall give it to the Levite, to the stranger, to the orphan and to the widow, that they may eat in your towns and be satisfied. 13 “You shall say before the LORD your God, ‘I have removed the sacred portion from my house, and also have given it to the Levite and the alien, the orphan and the widow, according to all Your commandments which You have commanded me; I have not transgressed or forgotten any of Your commandments.


               2 Samuel 24:24-25 However, the king said to Araunah, “No, but I will surely buy it from you for a price, for I will not offer burnt offerings to the LORD my God which cost me nothing.” So David bought the threshing floor and the oxen for fifty shekels of silver.  25 David built there an altar to the LORD and offered burnt offerings and peace offerings. Thus the LORD was moved by prayer for the land, and the plague was held back from Israel.


                1 Chronicles 29:5-19 of gold for the things of gold and of silver for the things of silver, that is, for all the work done by the craftsmen. Who then is willing to consecrate himself this day to the LORD?” 6 Then the rulers of the fathers’ households, and the princes of the tribes of Israel, and the commanders of thousands and of hundreds, with the overseers over the king’s work, offered willingly; 7 and for the service for the house of God they gave 5,000 talents and 10,000 darics of gold, and 10,000 talents of silver, and 18,000 talents of brass, and 100,000 talents of iron. 8 Whoever possessed precious stones gave them to the treasury of the house of the LORD, in care of Jehiel the Gershonite. 9 Then the people rejoiced because they had offered so willingly, for they made their offering to the LORD with a whole heart, and King David also rejoiced greatly. 10 So David blessed the LORD in the sight of all the assembly; and David said, “Blessed are You, O LORD God of Israel our father, forever and ever. 11 “Yours, O LORD, is the greatness and the power and the glory and the victory and the majesty, indeed everything that is in the heavens and the earth; Yours is the dominion, O LORD, and You exalt Yourself as head over all.  12 “Both riches and honor come from You, and You rule over all, and in Your hand is power and might; and it lies in Your hand to make great and to strengthen everyone.  13 “Now therefore, our God, we thank You, and praise Your glorious name.  14 “But who am I and who are my people that we should be able to offer as generously as this? For all things come from You, and from Your hand we have given You.  15 “For we are sojourners before You, and tenants, as all our fathers were; our days on the earth are like a shadow, and there is no hope. 16 “O LORD our God, all this abundance that we have provided to build You a house for Your holy name, it is from Your hand, and all is Yours.  17 “Since I know, O my God, that You try the heart and delight in uprightness, I, in the integrity of my heart, have willingly offered all these things; so now with joy I have seen Your people, who are present here, make their offerings willingly to You. 18 “O LORD, the God of Abraham, Isaac and Israel, our fathers, preserve this forever in the intentions of the heart of Your people, and direct their heart to You; 19 “and give to my son Solomon a perfect heart to keep Your commandments, Your testimonies and Your statutes, and to do them all, and to build the temple, for which I have made provision.”


                2 Chronicles 31: 5 As soon as the order spread, the sons of Israel provided in abundance the first fruits of grain, new wine, oil, honey and of all the produce of the field; and they brought in abundantly the tithe of all.


            Psalm 24:1 {A Psalm of David.} The earth is the LORD’S, and all it contains, The world, and those who dwell in it.


              Psalm 135:6 Whatever the LORD pleases, He does, In heaven and in earth, in the seas and in all deeps.


              Psalm 50:10-12 “For every beast of the forest is Mine, The cattle on a thousand hills.  11 “I know every bird of the mountains, And  everything that moves in the field is Mine.  12 “If I were hungry I would not tell you, For the world is Mine, and all it contains.


                Psalm 8:6 You make him to rule over the works of Your hands; You have put all things under his feet,


              Proverbs 3:9 Honor the LORD from your wealth And from the first of all your produce; 10 So your barns will be filled with plenty And your vats will overflow with new wine.


              Proverbs 30:7-9 Two things I asked of You, Do not refuse me before I die:  8 Keep deception and lies far from me, Give me neither poverty nor riches; Feed me with the food that is my portion,  9 That I not be full and deny You and say, “Who is the LORD?” Or That I not be in want and steal, And profane the name of my God.


                Nehemiah 13:12 All Judah then brought the tithe of the grain, wine and oil into the storehouses.


                Malachi 3:8 “Will a man rob God? Yet you are robbing Me! But you say, ‘How have we robbed You?’ In tithes and offerings.


               Matthew 6:1-4  “Beware of practicing your righteousness before men to be noticed by them; otherwise you have no reward with your Father who is in heaven. 2 “When therefore you give alms, do not sound a trumpet before you, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and in the streets, that they may be honored by men. Truly I say to you, they have their reward in full.  3 “But when you give alms, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing 4 that your alms may be in secret; and your Father who sees in secret will repay you.


              Matthew 6:24 “No one can serve two masters; for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will hold to one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and wealth.”


              Luke 11:39-42 But the Lord said to him, “Now you Pharisees clean the outside of the cup and of the platter; but inside of you, you are full of robbery and wickedness.  40 “You foolish ones, did not He who made the outside make the inside also?  41 “But give that which is within as charity, and then all things are clean for you.  42 “But woe to you Pharisees! For you pay tithe of mint and rue and every kind of garden herb, and yet disregard justice and the love of God; but these are the things you should have done without neglecting the others.


             Luke 12:15 Then He said to them, “Beware, and be on your guard against every form of greed; for not even when one has an abundance does his life consist of his possessions.”


             Luke 14:26, 27, 33 “If anyone comes to Me, and does not hate his own father and mother and wife and children and brothers and sisters, yes, and even his own life, he cannot be My disciple. 27 “Whoever does not carry his own cross and come after Me cannot be My disciple. . .33 “So then, none of you can be My disciple who does not give up all his own possessions.


             1 Corinthians 10:31 Whether, then, you eat or drink or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God.


             1 Corinthians 16:1-2 Now concerning the collection for the saints, as I directed the churches of Galatia, so do you also. 2 On the first day of every week each one of you is to put aside and save, as he may prosper, so that no collections be made when I come.


              2 Corinthians 8:3-15 For I testify that according to their ability, and beyond their ability, they gave of their own accord,  4 begging us with much urging for the favor of participation in the support of the saints,  5 and this, not as we had expected, but they first gave themselves to the Lord and to us by the will of God.  6 So we urged Titus that as he had previously made a beginning, so he would also complete in you this gracious work as well.  7 But just as you abound in everything, in faith and utterance and knowledge and in all earnestness and in the love we inspired in you, see that you abound in this gracious work also.  8 I am not speaking this as a command, but as proving through the earnestness of others the sincerity of your love also.  9 For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though He was rich, yet for your sake He became poor, so that you through His poverty might become rich.  10 I give my opinion in this matter, for this is to your advantage, who were the first to begin a year ago not only to do this, but also to desire to do it.  11 But now finish doing it also, so that just as there was the readiness to desire it, so there may be also the completion of it by your ability.  12 For if the readiness is present, it is acceptable according to what a person has, not according to what he does not have.  13 For this is not for the ease of others and for your affliction, but by way of equality —  14 at this present time your abundance being a supply for their need, so that their abundance also may become a supply for your need, that there may be equality;  15 as it is written, “HE WHO gathered MUCH DID NOT HAVE TOO MUCH, AND HE WHO gathered LITTLE HAD NO LACK.”


                2 Corinthians 9:6-15 Now this I say, he who sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and he who sows bountifully will also reap bountifully.  7 Each one must do just as he has purposed in his heart, not grudgingly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver.  8 And God is able to make all grace abound to you, so that always having all sufficiency in everything, you may have an abundance for every good deed;  9 as it is written, “HE SCATTERED ABROAD, HE GAVE TO THE POOR, HIS RIGHTEOUSNESS ENDURES FOREVER.”  10 Now He who supplies seed to the sower and bread for food will supply and multiply your seed for sowing and increase the harvest of your righteousness;  11 you will be enriched in everything for all liberality, which through us is producing thanksgiving to God.  12 For the ministry of this service is not only fully supplying the needs of the saints, but is also overflowing through many thanksgivings to God.  13 Because of the proof given by this ministry, they will glorify God for your obedience to your confession of the gospel of Christ and for the liberality of your contribution to them and to all,  14 while they also, by prayer on your behalf, yearn for you because of the surpassing grace of God in you.  15 Thanks be to God for His indescribable gift!


               Philippians 4:11-12 Not that I speak from want, for I have learned to be content in whatever circumstances I am. 12 I know how to get along with humble means, and I also know how to live in prosperity; in any and every circumstance I have learned the secret of being filled and going hungry, both of having abundance and suffering need.


               Philippians 4:19 And my God will supply all your needs according to His riches in glory in Christ Jesus.


               Colossians 3:5 Therefore consider the members of your earthly body as dead to immorality, impurity, passion, evil desire, and greed, which amounts to idolatry.


               1 Timothy 5:8 But if anyone does not provide for his own, and especially for those of his household, he has denied the faith and is worse than an unbeliever.


               1 Timothy 6:6 But godliness actually is a means of great gain when accompanied by contentment.


               Hebrews 11:6 And without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is and that He is a rewarder of those who seek Him.



Six Point Mission Statement

First Baptist Church

Connecting People to Jesus and to Each Other

Salvation is by Grace Alone, Through Faith Alone, in Jesus Christ Alone, According to Scripture Alone,
To the Glory of God Alone


Dependent in Prayer

Communicating with Our Creator For Guidance and Blessing

Done by Christians to God for All


Pursuing  Intentional World-Wide Evangelism & Mission

Calling Out to a Lost World the Hope of Eternal Life in Jesus Christ

Done by Christians TO Non-Christians


With Loving Ministry

Serving Our Neighbors Openly in the Name of the Lord Jesus Christ

Physical and Spiritual Service Done by Christians to Non-Christians


As a Fellowship of Baptized Believers

Loving the Chosen Children of God as Co-heirs of the Eternal Kingdom of God By Encouraging and Edifying One Another In the Faith

Lord’s Supper, Baptism, Like Faith & Practice, Tithing, Church Membership
Done Corporately by Christians Only


Through Authentic Discipleship

Training Christians to be Unashamedly Obedient to God’s Word for the Purpose of Godliness

Done in the Body of Christ by Christians Only


From and For Sincere Worship

Ascribing to the LORD the Glory Due His Name (1 Chron. 16:29-30)

Done TO God by Christians Only


Additional Resources: 

  pdfNew Testament Church Diagram



Biblical Church Definitions and Ordinances



Baptism: The Sign of Knowing Jesus Christ and His People

 (All Scriptures NASB)

 Purpose:  Not to “get you baptized” but to call you to follow our God and Savior Jesus Christ!


      1) encourage believers to affirm and live out their baptismal testimony and

      2) invite those not baptized to follow Jesus Christ first in faith, and then in baptism


I.  Your Belief in Jesus Christ is Primary

Salvation is by Grace alone, through faith alone, in Jesus Christ alone, according to Scripture alone, to the glory of God alone.  Salvation is not by baptism or any other religious act for that matter. 


Ephesians 2:8 For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God;  9 not as a result of works, so that no one may boast.  10 For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand so that we would walk in them.


Galatians 2:20 “I have been crucified with Christ; and it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself up for me.


John 3:1 Now there was a man of the Pharisees, named Nicodemus, a ruler of the Jews;  2 this man came to Jesus by night and said to Him, “Rabbi, we know that You have come from God as a teacher; for no one can do these signs that You do unless God is with him.”  3 Jesus answered and said to him, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born again he cannot see the kingdom of God.”  4 Nicodemus said to Him, “How can a man be born when he is old? He cannot enter a second time into his mother’s womb and be born, can he?”  5 Jesus answered, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born of water and the Spirit he cannot enter into the kingdom of God.  6 “That which is born of the flesh is flesh, and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit.  7 “Do not be amazed that I said to you, ‘ You must be born again.’  8 “The wind blows where it wishes and you hear the sound of it, but do not know where it comes from and where it is going; so is everyone who is born of the Spirit.”


Colossians 2: 9 For in Him all the fullness of Deity dwells in bodily form, 10 and in Him you have been made complete, and He is the head over all rule and authority;  11 and in Him you were also circumcised with a circumcision made without hands, in the removal of the body of the flesh by the circumcision of Christ;  12 having been buried with Him in baptism, in which you were also raised up with Him through faith in the working of God, who raised Him from the dead.  13 When you were dead in your transgressions and the uncircumcision of your flesh, He made you alive together with Him, having forgiven us all our transgressions,  14 having canceled out the certificate of debt consisting of decrees against us, which was hostile to us; and He has taken it out of the way, having nailed it to the cross.


Romans 6:1 What shall we say then? Are we to continue in sin so that grace may increase?  2 May it never be! How shall we who died to sin still live in it?  3 Or do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus have been baptized into His death?  4 Therefore we have been buried with Him through baptism into death, so that as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, so we too might walk in newness of life. 


What does this mean for me?


II.  Your Baptism according to Scripture is Necessary

            1.  Baptism is universal and presumed in the NT.

            2.  Baptism is always shown in Scripture to be done to a believer in Jesus Christ

                         A.D. 206 Tertullian is first to mention infant baptism

                        “We cannot make as a practice that which is not explicit or obvious from

Scripture.  Infant baptism is neither, but baptism of the believer is both.”


            3.  Baptism is only described as being done “in” water

                         “in” the Jordan (see Matt. 3:6 for Jesus’ baptism) and “out of” the Jordan (Mark

                         1:10 after Jesus was baptized)

        Baptism Defined:  Immersion in water


III.  Your Baptism Displays Two Realities

            1.  Baptism is Personal (see Romans 6)

            2.  Baptism is Public (see 1 Corinthians 12)


1 Corinthians 12:12-28  For even as the body is one and yet has many members, and all the members of the body, though they are many, are one body, so also is Christ.  13 For by one Spirit we were all baptized into one body, whether Jews or Greeks, whether slaves or free, and we were all made to drink of one Spirit.  14 For the body is not one member, but many.  15 If the foot says, “Because I am not a hand, I am not a part of the body,” it is not for this reason any the less a part of the body.  16 And if the ear says, “Because I am not an eye, I am not a part of the body,” it is not for this reason any the less a part of the body.  17 If the whole body were an eye, where would the hearing be? If the whole were hearing, where would the sense of smell be?  18 But now God has placed the members, each one of them, in the body, just as He desired.  19 If they were all one member, where would the body be?  20 But now there are many members, but one body. 


27 Now you are Christ’s body, and individually members of it.  28 And God has appointed in the church, first apostles, second prophets, third teachers, then miracles, then gifts of healings, helps, administrations, various kinds of tongues.



IV.  Your true Baptism is Permanent

Eph 4: 4 There is one body and one Spirit, just as also you were called in one hope of your calling;  5 one Lord, one faith, one baptism,  6 one God and Father of all who is over all and through all and in all.  7 But to each one of us grace was given according to the measure of Christ’s gift.


Heb 9: 11 But when Christ appeared as a high priest of the good things to come, He entered through the greater and more perfect tabernacle, not made with hands, that is to say, not of this creation;  12 and not through the blood of goats and calves, but through His own blood, He entered the holy place once for all, having obtained eternal redemption.


What does this mean for me?

What must I do?   Repentance comes before baptism!!!!!!!


Acts 2:38-29 Peter said to them, “Repent, and each of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins; and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.  39 “For the promise is for you and your children and for all who are far off, as many as the Lord our God will call to Himself.” 


-If your baptism is not an outward sign of your death to sin and self and having new life in Jesus Christ by faith, then your baptism is nothing. 


-Baptism is an outward sign of your repentance.  Hence, repentance comes first.  New life in Christ in the inner person comes first.  Crying out to Jesus for forgiveness of sins and believing that He is alive comes first.  Without these, baptism means nothing. 


-It is a sign of a person’s radical, individual repentance.  It is a sign of the New Covenant, that a person has been joined to his/her saving Lord, trusting Jesus’ death on the cross only for the forgiveness of one’s sins. 


-Baptism shows that one has faith that Jesus is infinitely greater than “me” . . . that I have been crucified . . . that I am dead . . . that I am born again by the Person of God Himself so that I have the hope of eternal life.  Yes, I am dead, but I live in the hope of the resurrection.  Baptism is a dying to myself and a living to Jesus Christ who Himself was resurrected.  Baptism shows that my faith is that Jesus, who is resurrected, will protect me from my deserved punishment and ensure my resurrection too. 


-Hence, it is biblically true that baptism does not save you.  It is not a sacrament that forgives your sin.  Think of it this way, “Was baptism crucified on the cross for your sin?”  “Were good works crucified on the cross for your sin?”  No, of course not!  Hence, to believe in either of these to take away sin is ludicrous.  Jesus was crucified for your sin; only belief or faith in Jesus Christ will lead to your forgiveness of sin by God’s grace alone.


-We are saved from our sin and given eternal life by God’s grace alone, through faith alone, in Jesus Christ alone, to the glory of God alone, according to Scripture alone.  



Power Encounters

Do Believers In Jesus Christ Have Authority To Cast Out Demons?



    1. L. Grant McClung, Jr.
    2. Clinton E. Arnold
    3. Merrill F. Unger
    4. Sydney H. T. Page
    5. John MacArthur, Jr.
    6. Hendrik Berkhof 
    1. Matthew 4:4, 7, 10
    2. Matthew 7:22-23
    3. Matthew 17:14-21
    4. Matthew 28:18-20
    5. Mark 9:38-40 (cf. Luke 9:49-50)
    6. Mark 16:15-18
    7. Luke 10:19-20
    8. Acts 19:13-16
    9. 2 Corinthians 10:3-8
    10. Ephesians 6:10-17
    11. James 4:7-10
    12. 1 Peter 5:8-10
    13. 2 Peter 2:9-11
    14. Jude 8-9
    15. 1 John 5:2-5

 The Spiritual Gifts Chapters (Ephesians 4; 1 Corinthians 12-14)                  




In this paper, one issue of spiritual warfare will be addressed from a biblical point of view.  The question at issue is whether or not the true believer in Jesus Christ is given authority over demons, and if so, to what extent does that person have that authority. 


The basis from which this paper is written is that the Scriptures are the final authority on all issues of life and reality, especially spiritual warfare.  Of importance will be any specific Scripture that gives the believer some kind of authority or command.  This is to be taken only in its context.  With that said, it is also a basis of this analysis that only unbelievers are exposed to demon possession while both believers and unbelievers may be subject to demonic influence and harassment.  Anything outside of Scripture, including one’s experiences with the demonic, is subject to the truth of Scripture.  We must have God’s standard of His incorruptible Word or else we may be taken away by false teachings.  As 2 Corinthians 11:13-15 says:


For such men are false apostles, deceitful workers, disguising themselves as apostles of Christ.  And no wonder, for even Satan disguises himself as an angel of light.  Therefore it is not surprising if his servants also disguise themselves as servants of righteousness; whose end shall be according to their deeds.[1]


Satan is more than willing to deceive us in any way he possibly can.


The issue of the believer’s authority must be addressed for it sets the tone for all other action in the believer’s responsibility in spiritual warfare.  That is, we must understand what the Scriptures declare is the position of the believer before the believer can claim he has any kind of power over Satan and demons.  Does the believer have authority to cast out demons?  Is this a normal practice (the idea of “power encounters”) for the contemporary believer in the process of evangelism?  Should the believer speak to demons in the process of casting them out?


The first section of the paper will address views of some contemporary authors on the subject of the believer’s authority.  This is not an extensive treatment of all of the views, nor will it be historical, but it will serve to set the stage for the further illumination of the problem which is the issue of this treatise.  The second section of this paper will deal with pertinent Scriptures on the topic.  Again, this may not be exhaustive, nor will there be room enough for an expository treatment of each passage.  Nonetheless, the Scriptures will be investigated with a view to explaining the issue.




In this section we will look at the views of six different contemporary authors.  As we proceed, the nature (or sides) of the issue will become more evident as the views of each person are presented.  Issues to look for include:  1) Are works of power (power encounters) common place for the believer’s ministry today or were they signs of authority specifically shown by Christ and given by Christ to those He chose to give power to?;  2) Should the believer speak to a demon?;  3) From what source is our authority given, that is, is it “assumed” or specifically given as a gift?;  4) To whom is that authority given, specific people or all believers?;  and, 5) Is there Scripture that warns against practices similar to the way spirits are cast out today?


1) L. Grant McClung, Jr.


To begin with, L. Grant McClung, Jr. is given a chapter entitled “Pentecostal/Charismatic Understanding of Exorcism” in Peter Wagner’s book, Wrestling with Dark Angels, in which he makes the following statements:


Varieties of methodologies are recorded in Pentecostal/charismatic sources . . . Some may lay hands upon the demonized, others may not.  There is no actual record in the Scriptures of deliverance from demons by the laying on of hands.  Neither is there any data on coughing up or spitting out demons, though this is reported in some contemporary deliverances.  In addition, the Scripture does not give us any encouragement to hold conversations with demons.  Harper (and others) state that the name or nature of the demon may be revealed and, in that case, we name the spirit when we command it to leave the person.  However, the practice followed by some of asking the demons for their names has no scriptural warrant.[2]


2) Clinton E. Arnold


Another author on spiritual warfare is Clinton E. Arnold.  He is a little difficult to understand as far as his position on the believer’s authority is concerned.  Citing Colossians 2:9-10, “For in Him all the fullness of Deity dwells in bodily form, and in Him you have been make complete, and He is the head over all rule and authority,” Arnold argues that we must act, in appropriate instances, in Christ’s authority over the demonic.  He states that, “We are united to [Christ] and have been filled by him and thus share in his authority over the realm of the demonic (see Col. 2:9-10).  Such a situation requires a firm verbal command addressed to a demonic spirit; this is not a prayer to God.”[3] 


Arnold states that, “Believers’ authority over the evil powers is rooted in their identification with the resurrection and exaltation of Christ.”[4]  He is in the context of Ephesians generally when he says, “Just as Christ holds a position of superiority to the powers, so too do believers have a position of superiority and authority over the devil’s forces.”[5]  Again, using Colossians 2:9-10, he writes, “Notice that Paul connected the Colossians’ possession of divine ‘fullness’ (pleroma) with Christ’s supremacy to the demonic powers.”[6]


Arnold agrees with the “classic mode” of spiritual warfare which focuses on repentance, faith, embracing of the truth, obedience to God’s word, and prayer, but he quickly moves to the experience of the early church to justify the believer’s need to engage in exorcism.  “I agree . . . that there are a number of serious shortcomings and problems with the contemporary deliverance ministry,” he goes on, “Yet I question [the] critical insistence that believers should not exercise authority in Christ to exorcise a demon.”[7]  Arnold thinks that those who stick to the “classic mode” of spiritual warfare downplay the “normative aspects of what Jesus modeled for us in his encounters with demons, the ministry of the Twelve, the ministry of the Seventy, and Paul’s ministry in Acts, as well as virtually ignoring what we can learn from a very important stream of church history.”[8]  Here, Arnold makes no differentiation between the authority of God in Christ, including the apostolic authority specifically given by Christ, and the ‘normal’ believer’s authority today.  There is no allusion to specific Scripture giving the contemporary believer authority to cast out demons, only the emphasis on the shared authority which believers have in Christ.  Is this sufficient?  


Arnold gives a sober warning about the excesses to avoid in the practice of confronting demons[9] and he has a chapter in his book which strongly discourages the believer’s personal interaction in the fight with territorial spirits[10] (something beyond the scope of this study).  In the end, however, he holds to the belief that Christians share in Christ’s authority over demons and can therefore exercise that authority if needed.


3) Merrill F. Unger


Unger’s work, Biblical Demonology, is considered one of this century’s classics in the realm of spiritual warfare.  In it, Unger depends strongly on Scripture as he pulls together a theological and historical/contextual framework for his treatment of demonology.  He lists the Christian’s resources for triumph in the conflict with Satan.  These resources are prayer (Eph. 6:10-20), faith (1 John 5:4), and the Word of God (Matt. 4:4, 7, 10), combined with a knowledge of Satanic devices (2 Cor. 2:11).[11]


About exorcism of demons, Unger says:


Strictly speaking there are no exorcisms in the Bible.  Use of the word, in its essential etymological meaning, forbids its employment with regard to the expulsion of demons by our Lord or His disciples.  The word signifying, as it does, the casting out of evil spirits by conjurations, incantations, or religious or magical ceremonies, is singularly appropriate to describe Jewish and ethnic practice, but is in salient contrast to that of our Lord and His followers, who employed no such methods.[12]


Unger later addresses the aspect of prayer especially in its central character, that is, that it must be directed to God.  In no uncertain terms, he associates “prayer” that is not directed to God with magic and declares it corrupt. 


True prayer can be addressed only to God and, since the paternal revelation of Himself is His Son, it is in the name of Jesus Christ.  The moment prayer or other religious exercise is directed to any other — deities, angels, demons, or saints, it loses its genuine character, and becomes tinged and contaminated with magic.  This magic may be said to be present in greater or less degree in all non-Christian religions, and also to exist in corruptions of Christianity.  It may be said that the more corrupt and degenerate a religious system becomes, the more it is vitiated by the element of magic.  The ethical element then wanes, or even disappears.  Incantations may be thought of as crude prayers, where the main stress is laid on the mode of utterance, rather than on the moral condition of the agent.[13]


This last quote from Unger should cause great pause for many in the spiritual warfare movement today who consider the name of our Lord almost as an incantation and use it indiscriminately with little or no analysis of their own motives.  Unger reminds the reader that the attitude of Scripture toward all magic and magical arts is of necessity hostile and completely condemnatory.  In light of Unger’s appraisal, one must be absolutely certain of his stance as a believer before attempting to “exorcise” a demon by speaking to it.


Unger makes yet another statement in his text which is applicable to the issue at hand.  In the context of the biblical denunciation of divination, he points to a passage in Deuteronomy 18:10-22.  His warning is pointed:


The Deuteronomic passage also gives truth, as spoken by Jehovah through the prophet, as the basic criterion for evaluating the genuineness of an alleged spokesman of the diving revelation.  If, like the heathen diviners, he speaks “in the name of other gods,” or presumptuously, in Jehovah’s name, what has not been divinely commanded him to speak, so that “the thing follow not, nor come to pass,” he is to be accounted as a false prophet of the stamp of pagan diviners, and to be put to death (Deut. 18:20-22).  This regulation for the conduct of the people of God may seem harsh and unnecessarily severe.  But not so.  It was divinely framed to be obeyed strictly and uncompromisingly, so as to act as an efficient check against the formidable and everpresent peril of contamination from the almost universally prevalent heathen practice of divination.[14]


Is there anything in the practice of spiritual warfare today that would be at this level of divination and therefore condemnable in the eyes of God?  It certainly appears so with the use of such things as specific formulaic prayers and praying that spirits must be cast out of one’s house.  This must give us pause in our search for the authority given to the believer to battle with Satan and his demons.


4) Sydney H. T. Page


Sydney Page has put together a scriptural study of Satan and his demons.  Pertinent to the issue here are his statements about Jesus’ granting of authority, demonic encounters in Acts, and a section on the application of these principles to the believer today. 


Page notes five passages in which Jesus’ followers are either commissioned to cast out demons or are said to have done so:  1) Mark 3:15, the choosing of the twelve; 2) Matthew 10:1-42, the commissioning of the Twelve, 3) Mark 6:7-13, the commissioning of the twelve; 4) Luke 9:1-6, the commissioning of the twelve; and 5) Luke 10:1-20 – the mission of the seventy-two.[15] 


Of particular interest is Page’s statement that:


None of the postresurrection commissionings in Matthew 28:18-20; Luke 24:46-49; John 20:21-23; 21:15-19; and Acts 1:8 mentions exorcism or healing, and even the commissioning in Luke 10:9 omits exorcism.  While there can be no doubt that exorcism was practiced by the early Christians, the New Testament does not present it as being as the heart of the church’s mission.[16]


Unfortunately, Page puts Mark 16:15-18, a reference to other believers who will cast out demons but who are not of the Twelve and the seventy-two, into a footnote.  He states that it is part of the long ending in Mark (16:9-20) which most scholars believe was not originally part of the Gospel.  It would have been much better for him to treat that passage directly.  As it is, all that is left is a slighted treatment of a fundamental passage with a new problem of the canonicity of Scripture and its inerrancy as handed down to us today.  This creates a problem more than it solves one.


Page addresses others who cast out demons apparently without Jesus’ authorization.  Page’s analysis is set out here:


Mark 9:38-41 and Luke 9:49-50 tell of another person who drove out demons in the name of Jesus.  John reported the activity of this individual to Jesus, adding that the disciples had ordered him to stop, “because he was not one of us” (Mark 9:38: cf. Luke 9:50).  Jesus rebuked the parochialism of his followers and enunciated the principle, “whoever is not against us is for us” (Mark 9:40; cf. Luke 9:50).  There is some debate over whether this man was a Jewish exorcist using the name of Jesus as a magical formula or whether he was a follower of Jesus, though not one of the Twelve.  In light of the story of the sons of Sceva in Acts 19:13-20, it is highly unlikely that Luke intended the former interpretation.  The exorcist was probably someone who believed in Jesus and wanted to participate in his ministry despite the fact that he lacked the formal authorization that Jesus had given the Twelve.[17] 


Yet another group of people cast out demons in Jesus’ name.  Matthew 7:21-23 contains the account of Jesus saying that those who will be condemned at the last judgment will claim to have driven out demons in His name.  Page says that, “These individuals seem to be people who consider themselves to be followers of Jesus and who perform miracles in his name, but who lack the commitment to Jesus and obedience to the Father that are indispensable for entry into the kingdom of God.”[18]  It must be noted that the only way this would be possible is if those individuals were in fact unregenerate but thought that they were Christians.  Page uses Luke 10:20, “Nevertheless do not rejoice in this, that the spirits are subject to you, but rejoice that your names are recorded in heaven,” to make his point about these people.  He states, “Jesus’ words here emphasize even more forcefully than Luke 10:20 how dangerous it is to allow preoccupation with power to take precedence over one’s personal relationship with God.”[19]


Concerning demonic encounters in Acts, brief items can be noted here.  Page notes that just as demons were drawn to Jesus, so the girl with the spirit of divination in Acts 16 was drawn to Paul.  Paul and his party did not seek her out; she followed them.  She shouted at them and acknowledged who they were.  Unlike the expulsion of demons by Jesus who appealed to no higher power, Paul cast out this spirit “in the name of Jesus Christ” (Acts 16:18) and the word of command was immediately effective.


Lastly, Page comments on the practice of exorcism in the modern world.  He suggests three options.[20]  First, we can maintain that exorcism no longer has a place in the ministry of the church because it reflects a primitive understanding of reality that can no longer be accepted.  This is concluded to be unscriptural and not a viable option.  Second, we can acknowledge that demons exist and that possession is possible, but we must see the incidence of demon possession as being limited to the ministry of Jesus and the Apostles.  The flaw here is that it is difficult to maintain scripturally that there is no room at all for the potential for demonic possession and the provision of casting out of demons.  Third, we may accept the reality of demon possession and consider exorcism as a valid and appropriate way of treating it.  At this, Page concludes:


It should be remembered that exorcism is not mentioned in the commissionings of the risen Lord.  It would be a grave mistake to allow preoccupation with exorcism to take precedence over that which is more central to the church’s mission.  It should also be remembered that neither Jesus nor the apostles sought out demoniacs.  It should not be cause for concern if the need for exorcism does not present itself.[21] 


5) John MacArthur, Jr.


As the list of authors progresses, the reader may notice that there has not been any recognizable order to them.  Perhaps their order will be clear with this next author, John MacArthur Jr.  His material is very strict in Scripture and presents some strong points which may conflict with points previously stated.  He says:


I’m not sure what people mean when they talk about “taking authority in Jesus’ name.”  A study of the concept of authority (Gk. exousia) in the New Testament reveals that word often describes a special status belonging only to Jesus Christ and His apostles. . . No one today has authority over demons and disease like the apostles did. . . So “taking authority” over demon spirits or negative circumstances is not a biblical concept.  Our method of dealing with Satan is to resist him, firm in our faith (James 4:7; 1 Peter 5:8-9).[22]


Now this point of view is very different from those which precede it.  Why?  MacArthur has his reasons and they must be dealt with by proponents of the spiritual warfare movement because the reasons are sound, biblical teachings.  It may be said in short that MacArthur is in what Arnold called, and partially criticized, the “classic mode” of spiritual warfare or in Page’s second option which is basically a cessationist view of the direct spiritual warfare with demons.  However, to put MacArthur into a category may be forcing too much of a constraint on his views.


First, he notes that God’s simple plan for spiritual warfare is to turn from sin and turn to Christ.[23]  MacArthur stresses the importance of true repentance in the workings of the Christian ministry.  He strongly concludes time after time that Scripture does not warrant the kind of spiritual warfare which is practiced by many today, but rather it keeps calling the individual to repentance and faith in the One who has all power and authority.


Second, and perhaps the most important point, MacArthur points out that the miracles of Jesus were His messianic credentials and therefore must not be seen as normative for the believer today.  He quotes John 20:30-31, “Many other signs therefore Jesus also performed in the presence of the disciples, which are not written in this book; but these have been written that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God; and that believing you may have life in His name.”  He also quotes Jesus from John 5:36, “For the works which the Father has given Me to accomplish, the very works that I do, bear witness of Me, that the Father has sent Me.”  Concerning the authority of the believer today, he concludes that, “If the proponents of today’s spiritual warfare movement were capable of following the Lord’s example, they would be able to demonstrate undeniable, immediate, and absolute success in all cases of healing and demon possession.”[24]


Third, and in a similar manner, MacArthur argues that the signs performed by the apostles were apostolic credentials, citing Paul in 2 Corinthians 12:12 who described them as “the signs of a true apostle.”[25]  Thus, the apostolic miracles were unique to the apostles. 


Fourth, MacArthur warns that to believe signs and miracles are the key to evangelism is to slight the regenerative work of the Holy Spirit.  “To claim that believers today exert the same apostolic authority,” he cautions, “is an attempt to rebuild the church and lay again the foundation that Christ already established forever.”[26]  He says this after making it clear that there are no longer any apostles (no one today fits the Scriptural definition), and that Paul declared that the church is “built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Christ Jesus Himself being the cornerstone” (Eph. 2:20).[27]  The two credentials for an apostle are that the person was an eyewitness of the resurrected Christ (Acts 1:21-23; 1 Cor. 9:1) and that the person was personally taught divine truth by Christ (Gal. 1:11-12; 1 Cor. 15:3).


6) Hendrik Berkhof


   Hendrik Berkhof is an author who captures the exaltation of Christ in His full authority over the powers of evil.  This text is a highly suggested read for every Christian.  Read carefully his analysis especially as it pertains to the body of Christ, the church:


As far as we may know, “Christianization” is inconceivable apart from the prophetic, living testimony of a vital church in word, deed, and presence.  Less is too little.  To strive to neutralize the Powers and de-ideologize life, without taking as point of departure and as goal the reality of God in Christ, will take us no further than a certain degree of “humanization,” which today or tomorrow will fall prey to a new Power, that of “humanity.”  To strive to neutralize the Powers and de-ideologize life by seeking to shore up the prophetic message with coercive measures, in order thereby to enthrone Christ without passing by the detour of preaching and conversion, will achieve too much and thereby too little.  This would but replace one Power by another — in this case by a Christian ideology — whose legalistic character would tend to veil from sight the Lord’s salvation and to degenerate into hypocrisy.[28] 


This is the danger of taking authority from the Lord in the name of spiritual warfare when that


authority is not given by the Lord Himself.  He goes on:


The minimum and at the same time the maximum to which we are called is what Paul himself teaches:  to be a church which in word and deed lives from the fact that Christ has overcome the Powers, and which holds them at arm’s length by virtue of this faith.[29]


His point is that Christ is in complete control over the powers and that the evil powers do nothing that Christ does not allow them to do.  Christ has overcome (past tense) the evil powers and we must live in the light of His victory not as if the battle is to be fought anew.  The battle is still being fought, but it must be done according to the victor Who has already won. 




In this section, pertinent Scriptures on the issue of the believer’s authority and/or stance in spiritual warfare will be listed and addressed in connection to this study.  Specifically, look for the element of command in the verses here.  If there is the use of the imperative, thus a scriptural command, that statement must carry more authority and emphasis to the believer today than a Scripture which simply reports an allowance by God of some action.  Again, all Scripture is relevant and controlling in all areas of life, yet there is a difference in the application of Scripture to life depending on what that Scripture says.  If it is a command, we must apply it.  If it is a description of an event, we must learn from it, but this may not raise to the level of a command.


1) Matthew 4:4, 7, 10




7 Jesus said to him, “On the other hand, it is written, ‘YOU SHALL NOT PUT THE LORD YOUR GOD TO THE TEST’. . .


10 Then Jesus said to him, “Go, Satan! For it is written, ‘YOU SHALL WORSHIP THE LORD YOUR GOD, AND SERVE HIM ONLY.’”


In this event of the temptation of Jesus, we do not see Jesus casting Satan away with a certain mystical phrase or motion of the hand.  No, His weapon is Scripture itself.


2) Matthew 7:22-23


“Many will say to Me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in Your name, and in Your name cast out demons, and in Your name perform many miracles?’


            23 “And then I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you; DEPART FROM ME, YOU WHO PRACTICE LAWLESSNESS.’


For purposes of this treatise, notice that from this Scripture it is clear that there are “many” who do things including casting out demons in the name of Jesus and they are not going to be in heaven.  They are considered evildoers.  Their concern is more with their own life and glory than with the glory of the Lord. 


3) Matthew 17:14-21


 14 When they came to the crowd, a man came up to Jesus, falling on his knees before Him and saying,


 15 “Lord, have mercy on my son, for he is a lunatic and is very ill; for he often falls into the fire and often into the water.


 16 “I brought him to Your disciples, and they could not cure him.”


 17 And Jesus answered and said, “You unbelieving and perverted generation, how long shall I be with you? How long shall I put up with you? Bring him here to Me.”


 18 And Jesus rebuked him, and the demon came out of him, and the boy was cured at once.


 19 Then the disciples came to Jesus privately and said, “Why could we not drive it out?”


 20 And He said to them, “Because of the littleness of your faith; for truly I say to you, if you have faith the size of a mustard seed, you will say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it will move; and nothing will be impossible to you.


 21 {“But this kind does not go out except by prayer and fasting.”}



This Scripture shows the ultimate supremacy of Christ over the devil and even


over his disciples to whom he gave the power to cast out demons.  The disciples clearly had an expectation that they could cast out the demons, but they failed.  Notice the different methodologies in this passage.  The methodology Christ proposes here for the disciples is faith in Him (see 1 John 5:4-5) coupled with prayer and fasting.  The methodology Christ uses is the action of rebuking the demon.  We must cast out demons the way Christ tells us to do it because He has the authority, not us.  Does this mean we can cast out demons the way Christ casted out demons?  We must look to Christ as our model for ministry, but we must also keep clear the difference between Him and us.  When Christ commits acts of God because He is God, how can we expect to commit those same acts when not one of us is God?  He is our model, but there is a difference.  Humans are not deity.  Humans are under the authority of the deity, Jesus Christ.


4) Matthew 28:18-20


18 And Jesus came up and spoke to them, saying, “All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth.


 19 “Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit,


 20 teaching them to observe all that I commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.”


Here we have a scripturalcommand in the imperative.  We must go and make disciples and in that process baptize and teach them.  Notice that “all authority” is given to Jesus Christ.  We have no authority of our own.  Any authority we will ever have comes from Him, and in fact must come from Him.  Also notice that there is no mention of casting out of demons in this passage.


5) Mark 9:38-40 (cf. Luke 9:49-50)


38 John said to Him, “Teacher, we saw someone casting out demons in Your name, and we tried to prevent him because he was not following us.”


 39 But Jesus said, “Do not hinder him, for there is no one who will perform a miracle in My name, and be able soon afterward to speak evil of Me.


 40 “For he who is not against us is for us.”


This passage, along with Mark 16:15-18, would seem to allow the taking of the Lord’s authority over a demon.  It is a viable warning not to build one’s theology on isolated Scripture.  Notice that the Lord is still in complete control here.  It is up to Him to determine who to allow to use His power even if He did not (apparently) grant it.  He commands the disciples here not to hinder the one casting demons out in His name.  Contrast this verse with Matthew 7:22-23 and it will be clear that the Lord Jesus Christ will decide who wields His power.  That is, it is still possible for one to cast out demons in the name of Jesus but not be under the authority of Jesus.  If one is unsure about this power, it would be wise and scriptural not to put the Lord to the test.

 6) Mark 16:15-18


15 And He said to them, “Go into all the world and preach the gospel to all creation.


 16 “He who has believed and has been baptized shall be saved; but he who has disbelieved shall be condemned.


 17 “These signs will accompany those who have believed:  in My name they will cast out demons, they will speak with new tongues;


 18 they will pick up serpents, and if they drink any deadly poison, it will not hurt them; they will lay hands on the sick, and they will recover.”


This passage is the passage which would directly allow the believer today to do these things listed.  This is the passage that Page passes over.  MacArthur fails to address this passage and many of the others could have used this for scriptural proof of the believer’s authority but did not.  This passage is not without its difficulties and it is wise not to build one’s theology about any issue on a single text.  Nonetheless, this passage would allow for a believer, today, to have the God-given authority to cast out demons.  The extent of that authority is to be determined not by experience, but by other Scriptures which show deep reverence for God’s Word and His ultimate authority with a reminder that we are to rejoice in the fact that our reward is in heaven not in the “power” to cast out demons.  We must not be prideful that we may be called on by God to wield this power.  The application here may be that the believer will know by God’s intervention in his life when he should cast out a demon.  In this instance God would grant the authority.  However, notice that this possibility is not in the form of a command.


7) Luke 10:19-20


19 “Behold, I have given you authority to tread on serpents and scorpions, and over all the power of the enemy, and nothing will injure you.


 20 “Nevertheless do not rejoice in this, that the spirits are subject to you, but rejoice that your names are recorded in heaven.”


Jesus was specifically speaking to the seventy after they had come and reported to Him what they had done.  He specifically gave them this authority.  The lesson to be learned here is that we must keep our focus on the proper priority.  Our authority is only from Christ and for His glory.  If the Lord grants it to us to cast out a demon, which He must do because all of his other commands put us in a defensive position standing in Christ’s power, we must stay focused on Him.  We must not take our eyes off of the author and perfecter of our faith.  Christ and His work of redemption must remain unfailingly central and exalted in all our life and ministry.  Any dealing with the devil must remain a peripheral to the ministry.   


8) Acts 19:13-16


13 But also some of the Jewish exorcists, who went from place to place, attempted to name over those who had the evil spirits the name of the Lord Jesus, saying, “I adjure you by Jesus whom Paul preaches.”


 14 Seven sons of one Sceva, a Jewish chief priest, were doing this.


 15 And the evil spirit answered and said to them, “I recognize Jesus, and I know about Paul, but who are you?”


 16 And the man, in whom was the evil spirit, leaped on them and subdued all of them and overpowered them, so that they fled out of that house naked and wounded.


Notice here the failure of the use of the name of the Lord Jesus as an incantation.  People cannot use the Lord’s name apart from knowing Him in true, repentant, saving grace and have the true authority of God behind them. 


9) 2 Corinthians 10:3-8


 3 For though we walk in the flesh, we do not war according to the flesh,


 4 for the weapons of our warfare are not of the flesh, but divinely powerful for the destruction of fortresses.


 5 We are destroying speculations and every lofty thing raised up against the knowledge of God, and we are taking every thought captive to the obedience of Christ,


 6 and we are ready to punish all disobedience, whenever your obedience is complete.


 7 You are looking at things as they are outwardly. If anyone is confident in himself that he is Christ’s, let him consider this again within himself, that just as he is Christ’s, so also are we.


 8 For even if I boast somewhat further about our authority, which the Lord gave for building you up and not for destroying you, I will not be put to shame . . .


Along with Ephesians 6:10-20, this passage delineates the true character of our spiritual warfare.  Paul uses his authority here to build up believers.  The weapons of spiritual warfare are divinely powerful and used to destroy speculations and every lofty thing brought against the true knowledge of God.  This speaks directly to a “truth encounter” and is absent of an allusion to a “power encounter.”


10) Ephesians 6:10-17


10 Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of His might.


 11 Put on the full armor of God, so that you will be able to stand firm against the schemes of the devil.


 12 For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the powers, against the world forces of this darkness, against the spiritual forces of wickedness in the heavenly places.


 13 Therefore, take up the full armor of God, so that you will be able to resist in the evil day, and having done everything, to stand firm.






 16 in addition to all, taking up the shield of faith with which you will be able to extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one.


17 And take THE HELMET OF SALVATION, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.


 18 With all prayer and petition pray at all times in the Spirit, and with this in view, be on the alert with all perseverance and petition for all the saints,


This is another scriptural imperative command.  This is something we must do.  The central goal in this passage is to be able to “stand” in the face of enemy assault not to seek out and attack the enemy.  Prayer is the framework in which this battle is fought.  All the armor is defensive except for the sword of the Spirit which is the Word of God.  Our posture is to stand in resistance to the enemy, Satan, not to attack.  Each piece of armor refers to an Old Testament description of God Himself.  We are to put on Christ as our protection. 


11) James 4:7-10


7 Submit therefore to God. Resist the devil and he will flee from you.


 8 Draw near to God and He will draw near to you. Cleanse your hands, you sinners; and purify your hearts, you double-minded.


 9 Be miserable and mourn and weep; let your laughter be turned into mourning and your joy to gloom.


 10 Humble yourselves in the presence of the Lord, and He will exalt you.


This is yet another, specific, scriptural command in the imperative.  Note that the stance in spiritual warfare here is focused on resistance of the devil which is intensely tied to drawing close to God in true and deep cleansing and repentance.  We are to be humble and let God exalt us.  We do not do the exalting.


12) 1 Peter 5:8-10


8 Be of sober spirit, be on the alert. Your adversary, the devil, prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour.


 9 But resist him, firm in your faith, knowing that the same experiences of suffering are being accomplished by your brethren who are in the world.


 10 After you have suffered for a little while, the God of all grace, who called you to His eternal glory in Christ, will Himself perfect, confirm, strengthen and establish you.




The actions of the believer here are commanded in the form of an imperative charge.  Notice first that our stance is to be sober in spirit and alert as against the devil.  Again, we do this by resisting him, not attacking him.  Also, notice the fact that this life is not meant to be free from the troubles of this world or Satan.  God will establish the believer according to the power and Grace of Christ.  Perhaps some today try to establish themselves by casting away the demons which cause them trouble.  This is not biblical. 


13) 2 Peter 2:9-11


9 then the Lord knows how to rescue the godly from temptation, and to keep the unrighteous under punishment for the day of judgment,


 10 and especially those who indulge the flesh in its corrupt desires and despise authority. Daring, self-willed, they do not tremble when they revile angelic majesties,


 11 whereas angels who are greater in might and power do not bring a reviling judgment against them before the Lord.


The Lord knows how to rescue His children from temptation.  Pay close attention to the relationship between angels (who are greater in might and power) and man.  Angels do not even bring a judgment before God about the ignorant men who, by contrast, do not tremble when they revile angelic majesties.  Compare this to Jude 8-9.


14) Jude 8-9


8 Yet in the same way these men, also by dreaming, defile the flesh, and reject authority, and revile angelic majesties.


 9 But Michael the archangel, when he disputed with the devil and argued about the body of Moses, did not dare pronounce against him a railing judgment, but said, “The Lord rebuke you!”


Again, even the angels do not rail against Satan, so who do we think we are to do this in today’s spiritual warfare.  We are just men.  Our authority is only in Christ.  We must pray to Christ to effect true authority in any situation with the devil and his demons.


15) 1 John 5:2-5


2 By this we know that we love the children of God, when we love God and observe His commandments.


 3 For this is the love of God, that we keep His commandments; and His commandments are not burdensome.


 4 For whatever is born of God overcomes the world; and this is the victory that has overcome the world — our faith.


 5 Who is the one who overcomes the world, but he who believes that Jesus is the Son of God?




This Scripture clearly upholds the keeping of God’s commandments as the


mark of the true believer.  Whatever happens in spiritual warfare, the true believer will strive to keep the commands that God has given him from the Scriptures.  This passage also sets forth the basis of our victory in overcoming the world (one element in the triad of evil powers:  Satan, flesh, and the world).  This is our faith in Jesus Christ our Savior and God.  This is not a faith in faith or a faith in an ability to cast out demons, it is a faith in the person of God. 


16) The Spiritual Gifts Chapters (Ephesians 4; 1 Corinthians 12-14)


If one looks to Ephesians 4 and 1 Corinthians 12-14, he will not find any reference to the casting out of demons as a spiritual gift.  This is an argument from silence of Scripture, but it is an argument at that.  It must not be maintained that exorcism is a gift for only certain people to use within the body of Christ.  The spiritual warfare battle is a battle that each and every believer must fight as Scripture equips them to fight.  We must heed the example of Paul who wrote, “Now these things, brethren, I have figuratively applied to myself and Apollos for your sakes, so that in us you may learn not to exceed what is written, so that no one of you will become arrogant in behalf of one against the other” (1 Corinthians 4:6).  This counsel we must take in all aspects of spiritual warfare and the Christian life as well.




At the end of an outlined analysis such as this, it is necessary to attempt to make some definite statements about the subject.  For the sake of reminder, the issue here is whether or not the true believer in Jesus Christ is given authority over demons, and if so, to what extent does that person have that authority?  Given the research in this paper, the answer to this issue is a tentative “yes” with many caveats.   


With John MacArthur’s exposition of points from Scripture that the show of authority from Jesus and the apostles were evidence of their God-given credentials, it becomes necessary to look for other Scriptures which command or give authority to the non-apostolic believer.  There are Scriptures that do so, but they present a much weaker case than the spiritual warfare movement of today presents.  Insofar as this paper does not have a glaring omission, the research does not show that the believer is commanded to cast out demons.  There are instances in which this action done by the believer was allowed by Christ, but Scripture more often commands the believer to stand in a posture of defense, and this is only done in the power of Christ.


First and foremost it must be clearly and definitively declared that the believer has no authority of his own in the spiritual warfare battle against Satan.  Any authority that the believer might have must come from Him Who has all authority in heaven and earth, Jesus Christ Himself.  The answer of “yes” to the issue at hand is derived form the Mark 16:15-18 passage and the scenario of Mark 9:38-40 and Luke 9:49-50.  These are the Scriptures in which people take the action of casting out demons, which implies the use of the authority of Christ, outside of the realm of Jesus’ messianic credentials or the apostles’ credentials as granted by Jesus.  Notice also that these Scriptures involve the allowance of this activity by Christ but they do not constitute a scriptural command to use the authority. 


With the exception of the apparent absence of Christ’s granting of authority in Mark 9:38-40 and Luke 9:49-50, it is otherwise clear in Scripture that the authority is Christ’s to grant and His to judge.  That is, the believer must not presume upon God an authority which has not been granted by God to that believer.  This is why the answer to the issue is so tentative.  Can we say with certainty that God has granted authority to every believer specifically to cast out demons and that they must in fact act in this authority in their ministry?  This is not the normative practice of evangelism or the living out of the Christian life.  The burden of proof seems to be on the side of the one who would answer “yes” to this last question to show anywhere in Scripture where a follower of Christ is commanded or expected to interact with demons this way. 


In the context of spiritual warfare, we are commanded to make disciples, stand firm in the might of the Lord not our own, resist the devil, draw near to God, humble ourselves before God with true repentance, be alert, be sober in spirit, and pray always in the Spirit, but not to cast out demons.  With this scriptural authority, why is it that there has developed a movement of those who emphasize that which is not commanded over that which is? 


The Scriptural evidence is weak at best.  We must tremble with fear before our Lord and resist the devil (James 4:7-10).  This is a command.  These are given to us for certain in Scripture.  The one Scripture in Mark does not give the believer a license to attack Satan as the modern spiritual warfare proponents suppose.  Who are we to attack angelic majesties if the angels themselves will not do so (Jude 1:9)?  We must appeal to the One with all of the authority, Jesus. 


What more can a person do than what God has already done in Jesus Christ?  Is His sovereignty over our lives not enough?  Perhaps this raises an issue which has been hiding behind all of the tensions surrounding the spiritual warfare movement.  That is, a reason why there is heightened interest in the casting out of demons and the practice of “deliverance ministries” is because there is a lower level of doctrinal preaching and teaching going on in our churches. 


Some people have traded in the real battle, the truth encounter with God’s Holy Word and His commands, for a short-cut approach “power encounter.”  The spiritual results they are looking for can and must only be done according to God’s Holy Word.  That is, if the saving of souls in the name of Jesus Christ is the goal, one can not go around the necessary prerequisite of true repentance from sin and reception of Jesus Christ as one’s all-sufficient Lord and Savior.  The spiritual warfare movement that goes too far, beyond the written Word of God, in an effort to reach people for God, is heretical at best and demonic at worst.  It causes the would-be believers to take their eyes off of Christ and look to the ability of the individual and it causes the believers who practice this ministry to substitute a scriptural allowance for many scriptural commands.


As bond-slaves to Christ Jesus, the proper scriptural stance is that we as believers are under the authority of Jesus Christ and we do not have authority apart from Him.  Does this mean that He can command or lead one of His children to cast out a demon today if He so chooses?  Yes.  Does that mean that casting out of demons is the norm for evangelistic practices of the church?  No.  


Anyone who acts in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ, with His authority, must truly be acting according to His name, that is, His reputation and His power.  They will be a servant that exalts Christ and not a Pharisee that exalts the self.  The fruit of any encounter with the risen Lord will be real, will effect a change in accordance with repentance, and will be lasting.


Therefore, we may say that “yes,” a believer may at some time be called on by the Lord to cast out a demon, but this is authority given only by the Lord and it is not to be simply taken by the person from the Lord to serve that person’s interest.  The believer’s stance is to resist the devil and to drawn near to God.  If this was followed as God commanded, there would be the true appropriation of God’s power, in His Word, to take every thought captive to Christ and His word and there would be less need, in this writer’s humble analysis, for the “power encounter” of casting out demons.  We need more disciples to exercise their hearts and minds on God’s Word and less exorcising demons with what may be borrowed power.  The scriptural warnings are clear and enough to make every person on this earth tremble in the face of angelic powers.  Our stronghold is the Lord Himself. 


Another issue brought out by this study is the extent to which people have the authority of God.  Those proponents of the spiritual warfare movement who contend that believers have the authority of Christ because believers are in Christ and He fills us with His Holy Spirit have actually set up a greater problem.  That is, if we actually have the full authority of Christ, then why does it center only on casting out demons.  We should be able to heal the sick, demonic or not.  Jesus Christ did that.  We should be able to raise the dead on command.  Our Lord did that.  The exorcisms should be immediate and complete.  But these characteristics are lacking in the modern spiritual warfare practice of casting out demons which has a success rate (depending on who one reads) of 75% or 50%.  There is an incongruity in the application of the Lord’s authority and power to the person here.  Perhaps the reason why is that we are not following the scriptural commands which the Lord specifically gave us to follow.


Spiritual warfare must be based on Scripture, not experience.  A high view of God coupled with a low view of man is the norm in Scripture.  We as believers are under the authority of Jesus Christ.  We do not have the simple option of taking authority from Him and using it for our purposes.  This is dangerous for ourselves and our hearers (see 1 Timothy 4:16).  Those who propose the practice of casting out of demons claiming the authority of God for themselves have a high view of man and a low view of God.  We cannot allow a scriptural possibility (casting out of demons) to be put in the central place of ministry and negate the commands of our supreme Commander and expect Him to be pleased with the way that we fight the battle. 


Russell L. Penney states that, “Believers have not received delegated authority in the Great Commission, nor does their position in Christ at the right hand of God constitute a delegated right to command the demons to obey or the right to pronounce judgment upon them.”[30]  The preoccupation in such a theology will become imbalanced as it concentrates more on what Satan and his demons are doing than on the command and imperative of proclaiming the gospel that is the only thing that has God’s power to truly free anyone anyway.


The practice of some who make casting out of demons central is often associated with the health, wealth, and prosperity gospel which is no gospel at all.  Is it possible that this practice could be likened to those described in Jude 16-21?


 16 These are grumblers, finding fault, following after their own lusts; they speak arrogantly, flattering people for the sake of gaining an advantage.


 17 But you, beloved, ought to remember the words that were spoken beforehand by the apostles of our Lord Jesus Christ,


 18 that they were saying to you, “In the last time there will be mockers, following after their own ungodly lusts.”


 19 These are the ones who cause divisions, worldly-minded, devoid of the Spirit.


 20 But you, beloved, building yourselves up on your most holy faith, praying in the Holy Spirit,


 21 keep yourselves in the love of God, waiting anxiously for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ to eternal life.                                          — Jude 16-21            


[1] Unless otherwise noted, all Scripture taken from the NEW AMERICAN STANDARD BIBLE®, Copyright © 1960, 1962, 1963, 1968, 1971, 1972, 1973, 1975, 1977, 1995 by The Lockman Foundation.  Used by permission.

[2]Peter C. Wagner, Wrestling with Dark Angels:  Toward a Deeper Understanding of the Supernatural Forces in Spiritual Warfare (Ventura, California: Regal Books, 1990), 210. (Emphasis added).

[3]Clinton E. Arnold, 3 Crucial Questions about Spiritual Warfare (Grand Rapids, Michigan:  Baker Books, 1997), 126.

[4]Clinton E. Arnold, Powers of Darkness:  Principalities & Powers in Paul’s Letters (Downers Grove, Illinois:  InterVarsity Press, 1992), 115.


[6]Ibid., 116.

[7]Arnold, 3 Crucial Questions, 115.


[9]Ibid., 129-133.

[10]Ibid., Chapter 3.

[11]Merrill F. Unger, Biblical Demonology:  A Study of Spiritual Forces at Work Today (Grand Rapids, Michigan:  Kregel Publications, 1994), 101.

[12]Ibid., 101.

[13]Ibid., 109-110. (Emphasis added).

[14]Ibid., 124. (Emphasis added).

[15]Sydney H. T. Page, Powers of Evil:  A Biblical Study of Satan & Demons (Grand Rapids, Michigan:  Baker Books, 1995), 169-172.

[16]Ibid., 171.


[18]Ibid., 171-172.

[19]Ibid., 172.

[20]Ibid., 180-81

[21]Ibid., 181.

[22]John MacArthur, Jr., How to Meet the Enemy:  Arming Yourself for Spiritual Warfare (Colorado Springs, Colorado:  Chariot Victor Publishing, 1992), 60. (Emphasis original).

[23]Ibid., 53.

[24]Ibid., 90. (Emphasis added).

[25]Ibid., 90.

[26]Ibid., 152-153.

[27]Ibid., 152.

[28]Hendrik Berkhof, Christ and the Powers, transl. John H. Yoder (Scottdale, Pennsylvania:  Herald Press, 1977), 61. (Emphasis added).

[29]Ibid. (Emphasis added).



[30]Russell L. Penney, ed., Overcoming the World Missions Crisis:  Thinking Strategically to Reach the World (Grand Rapids, Michigan:  Kregel Publications, 2001), 233 (referring to Jude 9). 



Identity of the True God: The Trinity

I.  There is only one true God, all others are false

Exodus 20:1-4

 Then God spoke all these words, saying,  “I am the LORD your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of slavery.  “You shall have no other gods before Me.  “You shall not make for yourself an idol, or any likeness of what is in heaven above or on the earth beneath or in the water under the earth.”


  Deuteronomy 6:4-5

                 “Hear, O Israel! The LORD is our God, the LORD is one!

                 “You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might.


 2 Kings 19:18

 and have cast their gods into the fire, for they were not gods but the work of men’s hands, wood and stone. So they have destroyed them.


2 Chronicles 32:18-21

 They [enemies of God’s people] called this out with a loud voice in the language of Judah to the people of Jerusalem who were on the wall, to frighten and terrify them, so that they might take the city.


  19 They spoke of the God of Jerusalem as of the gods of the peoples of the earth, the work of men’s hands.


  20 But King Hezekiah and Isaiah the prophet, the son of Amoz, prayed about this and cried out to heaven.


  21 And the LORD sent an angel who destroyed every mighty warrior, commander and officer in the camp of the king of Assyria. So he returned in shame to his own land. And when he had entered the temple of his god, some of his own children killed him there with the sword.


Jeremiah 2:11-12

  “Has a nation changed gods When they were not gods? But My people have changed their glory For that which does not profit. 12 “Be appalled, O heavens, at this, And shudder, be very desolate,” declares the LORD.


Isaiah 43:10-11

 “You are My witnesses,” declares the LORD, “And My servant whom I have chosen, So that you may know and believe Me And understand that I am He. Before Me there was no God formed, And there will be none after Me.  11 “I, even I, am the LORD, And there is no savior besides Me.


 Isaiah 44:6,9-10

  “Thus says the LORD, the King of Israel And his Redeemer, the LORD of hosts: ‘I am the first and I am the last, And there is no God besides Me. . . .


 9 “Remember the former things long past, For I am God, and there is no other; I am God, and there is no one like Me, 10 Declaring the end from the beginning, And from ancient times things which have not been done, Saying, ‘My purpose will be established, And I will accomplish all My good pleasure’;


Isaiah 45:5-6

“I am the LORD, and there is no other; Besides Me there is no God. I will gird you, though you have not known Me;  6 That men may know from the rising to the setting of the sun That there is no one besides Me. I am the LORD, and there is no other,


1 John 5:20

 And we know that the Son of God has come, and has given us understanding so that we may know Him who is true; and we are in Him who is true, in His Son Jesus Christ. This is the true God and eternal life.


2 John 9

 Anyone who goes too far and does not abide in the teaching of Christ, does not have God; the one who abides in the teaching, he has both the Father and the Son.


1 Corinthians 8:4-6

Therefore concerning the eating of things sacrificed to idols, we know that there is no such thing as an idol in the world, and that there is no God but one. 5 For even if there are so-called gods whether in heaven or on earth, as indeed there are many gods and many lords, 6 yet for us there is but one God, the Father, from whom are all things and we exist for Him; and one Lord, Jesus Christ, by whom are all things, and we exist through Him.


II.  Idols (gods) of other nations are in fact demons

**1 Chronicles 16:26 For all the gods of the peoples are idols, But the LORD made the heavens.


**Psalm 96:5 For all the gods of the peoples are idols, But the LORD made the heavens.


**Psalm 106:34-39

They did not destroy the peoples, As the LORD commanded them,  35 But they mingled with the nations And learned their practices,  36 And served their idols, Which became a snare to them.  37 They even sacrificed their sons and their daughters to the demons,  38 And shed innocent blood, The blood of their sons and their daughters, Whom they sacrificed to the idols of Canaan; And the land was polluted with the blood.  39 Thus they became unclean in their practices, And played the harlot in their deeds.


Deuteronomy 32:15-19

“But Jeshurun grew fat and kicked — You are grown fat, thick, and sleek — Then he forsook God who made him, And scorned the Rock of his salvation.  16 “They made Him jealous with strange gods; With abominations they provoked Him to anger.  17 “They sacrificed to demons who were not God, To gods whom they have not known, New gods who came lately, Whom your fathers did not dread.  18 “You neglected the Rock who begot you, And forgot the God who gave you birth.  19 “The LORD saw this, and spurned them Because of the provocation of His sons and daughters.


1 Corinthians 10:17-21

Since there is one bread, we who are many are one body; for we all partake of the one bread.

 18 Look at the nation Israel; are not those who eat the sacrifices sharers in the altar?

 19 What do I mean then? That a thing sacrificed to idols is anything, or that an idol is anything?

 20 No, but I say that the things which the Gentiles sacrifice, they sacrifice to demons and not to God; and I do not want you to become sharers in demons.  21 You cannot drink the cup of the Lord and the cup of demons; you cannot partake of the table of the Lord and the table of demons.


See also Psalms 96:5; 115:3-7 where other gods are not able to act or save.  See Deuteronomy 32:21; Jer. 8:19 where other gods are ‘nothing but breath.’


III.  Test of a False Prophet

Deuteronomy 18:20-22

‘But the prophet who speaks a word presumptuously in My name which I have not commanded him to speak, or which he speaks in the name of other gods, that prophet shall die.’  21 “You may say in your heart, ‘How will we know the word which the LORD has not spoken?’  22 “When a prophet speaks in the name of the LORD, if the thing does not come about or come true, that is the thing which the LORD has not spoken. The prophet has spoken it presumptuously; you shall not be afraid of him.


Deuteronomy 13:1-5

“If a prophet or a dreamer of dreams arises among you and gives you a sign or a wonder, 2 and the sign or the wonder comes true, concerning which he spoke to you, saying, ‘Let us go after other gods (whom you have not known) and let us serve them,’  3 you shall not listen to the words of that prophet or that dreamer of dreams; for the LORD your God is testing you to find out if you love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul.  4 “You shall follow the LORD your God and fear Him; and you shall keep His commandments, listen to His voice, serve Him, and cling to Him. 5 “But that prophet or that dreamer of dreams shall be put to death, because he has counseled rebellion against the LORD your God who brought you from the land of Egypt and redeemed you from the house of slavery, to seduce you from the way in which the LORD your God commanded you to walk. So you shall purge the evil from among you.



IV.  Jesus CALLS HIMSELF “I AM” – the eternal God’s name from Exodus 3:13-15.  Hence, Jesus claims to be the ETERNAL, CREATOR GOD. The only option Jesus gives us by taking on this eternal name of God is to either accept Him as eternal God, or reject Him and suffer in Hell forever (John 8:24).  There is no other alternative.


**John 8:24-30

‘Therefore I said to you that you will die in your sins; for unless you believe that I am He, you will die in your sins.”  25 So they were saying to Him, “Who are You?” Jesus said to them, “What have I been saying to you from the beginning?  26 “I have many things to speak and to judge concerning you, but He who sent Me is true; and the things which I heard from Him, these I speak to the world.”  27 They did not realize that He had been speaking to them about the Father.   28 So Jesus said, “When you lift up the Son of Man, then you will know that I am He, and I do nothing on My own initiative, but I speak these things as the Father taught Me.  29 “And He who sent Me is with Me; He has not left Me alone, for I always do the things that are pleasing to Him.”  30 As He spoke these things, many came to believe in Him.  31 So Jesus was saying to those Jews who had believed Him, “If you continue in My word, then you are truly disciples of Mine;


**John 8:53-58

“Surely You are not greater than our father Abraham, who died? The prophets died too; whom do You make Yourself out to be?”   54 Jesus answered, “If I glorify Myself, My glory is nothing; it is My Father who glorifies Me, of whom you say, ‘He is our God’;  55 and you have not come to know Him, but I know Him; and if I say that I do not know Him, I will be a liar like you, but I do know Him and keep His word.  56 “Your father Abraham rejoiced to see My day, and he saw it and was glad.”  57 So the Jews said to Him, “You are not yet fifty years old, and have You seen Abraham?”  58 Jesus said to them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, before Abraham was born, I am.”


Exodus 3:1315

Then Moses said to God, “Behold, I am going to the sons of Israel, and I will say to them, ‘The God of your fathers has sent me to you.’ Now they may say to me, ‘What is His name?’ What shall I say to them?”  14 God said to Moses, “I AM WHO I AM”; and He said, “Thus you shall say to the sons of Israel, ‘I AM has sent me to you.”‘  15 God, furthermore, said to Moses, “Thus you shall say to the sons of Israel, ‘The LORD, the God of your fathers, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob, has sent me to you.’ This is My name forever, and this is My memorial-name to all generations.


Jesus is God with us

Isaiah 7:14

“Therefore the Lord Himself will give you a sign: Behold, a virgin will be with child and bear a son, and she will call His name Immanuel.


Matthew 1:23 



Jesus in John 12:41 is the One Isaiah sees in Is. 6



V.  Jesus is the Creator God – He was NEVER created Himself because He always existed/exists as God

(see Genesis 1-2)  “In the beginning God created . . .”


Psalm 90:2

Before the mountains were born Or You gave birth to the earth and the world, Even from everlasting to everlasting, You are God.


Psalm 104:27-30

They all wait for You To give them their food in due season.  28 You give to them, they gather it up; You open Your hand, they are satisfied with good.  29 You hide Your face, they are dismayed; You take away their spirit, they expire And return to their dust.  30 You send forth Your Spirit, they are created; And You renew the face of the ground.


Isaiah 44:24

Thus says the LORD, your Redeemer, and the one who formed you from the womb, “I, the LORD, am the maker of all things, Stretching out the heavens by Myself And spreading out the earth all alone, . . .


Isaiah 66:2

“For My hand made all these things, Thus all these things came into being,” declares the LORD. “But to this one I will look, To him who is humble and contrite of spirit, and who trembles at My word.


Jeremiah 2:26-29

“As the thief is shamed when he is discovered, So the house of Israel is shamed; They, their kings, their princes And their priests and their prophets, 27 Who say to a tree, ‘You are my father,’ And to a stone, ‘You gave me birth.’ For they have turned their back to Me, And not their face; But in the time of their trouble they will say, ‘Arise and save us.’  28 “But where are your gods Which you made for yourself? Let them arise, if they can save you In the time of your trouble; For according to the number of your cities Are your gods, O Judah.  29 “Why do you contend with Me? You have all transgressed against Me,” declares the LORD.


(God is creator, anything else is idolatry)


Jeremiah 10:10-16

But the LORD is the true God; He is the living God and the everlasting King. At His wrath the earth quakes, And the nations cannot endure His indignation.  11 Thus you shall say to them, “The gods that did not make the heavens and the earth will perish from the earth and from under the heavens.”  12 It is He who made the earth by His power, Who established the world by His wisdom; And by His understanding He has stretched out the heavens.  13 When He utters His voice, there is a tumult of waters in the heavens, And He causes the clouds to ascend from the end of the earth; He makes lightning for the rain, And brings out the wind from His storehouses.  14 Every man is stupid, devoid of knowledge; Every goldsmith is put to shame by his idols; For his molten images are deceitful, And there is no breath in them.  15 They are worthless, a work of mockery; In the time of their punishment they will perish.  16 The portion of Jacob is not like these; For the Maker of all is He, And Israel is the tribe of His inheritance; The LORD of hosts is His name.


John 1:1-3,10,14

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.  2 He was in the beginning with God.  3 All things came into being through Him, and apart from Him nothing came into being that has come into being.  4 In Him was life, and the life was the Light of men.  5 The Light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not comprehend it. . . .


10 He was in the world, and the world was made through Him, and the world did not know Him. . . .


14 And the Word became flesh, and dwelt among us, and we saw His glory, glory as of the only begotten from the Father, full of grace and truth.


1 Corinthians 8:5-6

For even if there are so-called gods whether in heaven or on earth, as indeed there are many gods and many lords,  6 yet for us there is but one God, the Father, from whom are all things and we exist for Him; and one Lord, Jesus Christ, by whom are all things, and we exist through Him.


Colossians 1:15-17

He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation.  16 For by Him all things were created, both in the heavens and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities — all things have been created through Him and for Him.  17 He is before all things, and in Him all things hold together.


Colossians 2:9-10

For in Him all the fullness of Deity dwells in bodily form,  10 and in Him you have been made complete, and He is the head over all rule and authority;


Hebrews 1:1-4

God, after He spoke long ago to the fathers in the prophets in many portions and in many ways,  2 in these last days has spoken to us in His Son, whom He appointed heir of all things, through whom also He made the world.  3 And He is the radiance of His glory and the exact representation of His nature, and upholds all things by the word of His power. When He had made purification of sins, He sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on high,  4 having become as much better than the angels, as He has inherited a more excellent name than they.


Revelation 1:8

“I am the Alpha and the Omega,” says the Lord God, “who is and who was and who is to come, the Almighty.”


Revelation 22:12-13,16

“Behold, I am coming quickly, and My reward is with Me, to render to every man according to what he has done.

 13 “I am the Alpha and the Omega, the first and the last, the beginning and the end.”…


16 “I, Jesus, have sent My angel to testify to you these things for the churches. I am the root and the descendant of David, the bright morning star.”



VI.  The “Trinity” of God – three personages of God in the Bible (remembering that there is only one true God according to Scripture!! and then “God” is called . . .)


God the Father

1 Peter 1:2

according to the foreknowledge of God the Father, by the sanctifying work of the Spirit, to obey Jesus Christ and be sprinkled with His blood: May grace and peace be yours in the fullest measure.


God the Son, Jesus Christ

John 20:28

Thomas answered and said to Him, “My Lord and my God!”


Romans 9:5

whose are the fathers, and from whom is the Christ according to the flesh, who is over all, God blessed forever. Amen.


Philippians 2:5-7

Have this attitude in yourselves which was also in Christ Jesus,  6 who, although He existed in the form of God, did not regard equality with God a thing to be grasped,  7 but emptied Himself, taking the form of a bond-servant, and being made in the likeness of men.


God the Holy Spirit

Acts 5: 3-4

But Peter said, “Ananias, why has Satan filled your heart to lie to the Holy Spirit and to keep back some of the price of the land?  4 “While it remained unsold, did it not remain your own? And after it was sold, was it not under your control? Why is it that you have conceived this deed in your heart? You have not lied to men but to God.”


God the Father calls Jesus “God” and Creator

Hebrews 1:8,10





Jesus calls God His Father

John 5:18

For this reason therefore the Jews were seeking all the more to kill Him, because He not only was breaking the Sabbath, but also was calling God His own Father, making Himself equal with God.



Isaiah 9:6-7

For a child will be born to us, a son will be given to us; And the government will rest on His shoulders; And His name will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Eternal Father, Prince of Peace.  7 There will be no end to the increase of His government or of peace, On the throne of David and over his kingdom, To establish it and to uphold it with justice and righteousness From then on and forevermore. The zeal of the LORD of hosts will accomplish this.


Matthew 22:43

He said to them, “Then how does David in the Spirit call Him ‘Lord,’ saying, 44 ‘THE LORD SAID TO MY LORD, “SIT AT MY RIGHT HAND, UNTIL I PUT YOUR ENEMIES BENEATH YOUR FEET”‘?  45 “If David then calls Him ‘Lord,’ how is He his son?” 


John 10:27-30

“My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me; 28 and I give eternal life to them, and they will never perish; and no one will snatch them out of My hand. 29 “My Father, who has given them to Me, is greater than all; and no one is able to snatch them out of the Father’s hand. 30 “I and the Father are one.”


John 12:45

“He who sees Me sees the One who sent Me. 46 “I have come as Light into the world, so that everyone who believes in Me will not remain in darkness.


John 16:12-15

“I have many more things to say to you, but you cannot bear them now.  13 “But when He, the Spirit of truth, comes, He will guide you into all the truth; for He will not speak on His own initiative, but whatever He hears, He will speak; and He will disclose to you what is to come.  14 “He will glorify Me, for He will take of Mine and will disclose it to you. 15 “All things that the Father has are Mine; therefore I said that He takes of Mine and will disclose it to you.


Colossians 1:19-20

For it was the Father’s good pleasure for all the fullness to dwell in Him,  20 and through Him to reconcile all things to Himself, having made peace through the blood of His cross; through Him, I say, whether things on earth or things in heaven.



VII.  This one God is the ONLY Savior – i.e., if you do not believe in the single God revealed as Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, you are not saved.  A denial of the trinity is heresy

Isaiah 43:10-11

“You are My witnesses,” declares the LORD, “And My servant whom I have chosen, So that you may know and believe Me And understand that I am He. Before Me there was no God formed, And there will be none after Me. 11 “I, even I, am the LORD, And there is no savior besides Me.


Isaiah 45:21-22

“Declare and set forth your case; Indeed, let them consult together. Who has announced this from of old? Who has long since declared it? Is it not I, the LORD? And there is no other God besides Me, A righteous God and a Savior; There is none except Me. 22 “Turn to Me and be saved, all the ends of the earth; For I am God, and there is no other.


Matthew 1:21

“She will bear a Son; and you shall call His name Jesus, for He will save His people from their sins.”


John 14:6-7

Jesus said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father but through Me. 7 “If you had known Me, you would have known My Father also; from now on you know Him, and have seen Him.”


Acts 20:28

“Be on guard for yourselves and for all the flock, among which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers, to shepherd the church of God which He purchased with His own blood.


Titus 1:1-4

Paul, a bond-servant of God and an apostle of Jesus Christ, for the faith of those chosen of God and the knowledge of the truth which is according to godliness, 2 in the hope of eternal life, which God, who cannot lie, promised long ages ago, 3 but at the proper time manifested, even His word, in the proclamation with which I was entrusted according to the commandment of God our Savior, 4 To Titus, my true child in a common faith: Grace and peace from God the Father and Christ Jesus our Savior.


Titus 2:10,13

not pilfering, but showing all good faith so that they will adorn the doctrine of God our Savior in every respect. . . .


13 looking for the blessed hope and the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior, Christ Jesus,


Titus 3:4

But when the kindness of God our Savior and His love for mankind appeared,  5 He saved us, not on the basis of deeds which we -7 done in righteousness, but according to His mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewing by the Holy Spirit,  6 whom He poured out upon us richly through Jesus Christ our Savior,  7 so that being justified by His grace we would be made heirs according to the hope of eternal life.


2 Peter 1:1

Simon Peter, a bond-servant and apostle of Jesus Christ, To those who have received a faith of the same kind as ours, by the righteousness of our God and Savior, Jesus Christ:


Jude 25

to the only God our Savior, through Jesus Christ our Lord, be glory, majesty, dominion and authority, before all time and now and forever. Amen.


VIII.  Only God can forgive sins – and Jesus did it. 

Isaiah 43:24-25

“You have bought Me not sweet cane with money, Nor have you filled Me with the fat of your sacrifices; Rather you have burdened Me with your sins, You have wearied Me with your iniquities.


 25 “I, even I, am the one who wipes out your transgressions for My own sake, And I will not remember your sins.


Matthew 9:2

And they brought to Him a paralytic lying on a bed. Seeing their faith, Jesus said to the paralytic, “Take courage, son; your sins are forgiven.


Luke 5:20-21

Seeing their faith, He said, “Friend, your sins are forgiven you.”  21 The scribes and the Pharisees began to reason, saying, “Who is this man who speaks blasphemies? Who can forgive sins, but God alone?”


IX.  Only God is to be Worshipped – and God the FATHER commands all the angels to worship JESUS (see Heb. 1:6).


Exodus 20:5-8

“You shall not worship them or serve them; for I, the LORD your God, am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers on the children, on the third and the fourth generations of those who hate Me,  6 but showing lovingkindness to thousands, to those who love Me and keep My commandments.  7 “You shall not take the name of the LORD your God in vain, for the LORD will not leave him unpunished who takes His name in vain.  8 “Remember the sabbath day, to keep it holy.


John 9:35-39

Jesus heard that they had put him out, and finding him, He said, “Do you believe in the Son of Man?”  36 He answered, “Who is He, Lord, that I may believe in Him?”  37 Jesus said to him, “You have both seen Him, and He is the one who is talking with you.”  38 And he said, “Lord, I believe.” And he worshiped Him.  39 And Jesus said, “For judgment I came into this world, so that those who do not see may see, and that those who see may become blind.”


Hebrews 1:6

And when He again brings the firstborn into the world, He says, “AND LET ALL THE ANGELS OF GOD WORSHIP HIM.”


Every knee will bow and every tongue confess that God is Lord and that Jesus is Lord = one in the same

 Isaiah 45:23

 “I have sworn by Myself, The word has gone forth from My mouth in righteousness And will not turn back, That to Me every knee will bow, every tongue will swear allegiance.


Romans 14:11



Philippians 2:10

so that at the name of Jesus EVERY KNEE WILL BOW, of those who are in heaven and on earth and under the earth,



X.  See the “To us there is one God” sheet where Jesus = Yahweh in Scripture

 [1] Wayne Grudem, Systematic Theology: An Introduction to Biblical Doctrine, (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 1994), 1158.

[2] All Scriptures herein taken from the NEW AMERICAN STANDARD BIBLE ®, Copyright © 1960, 1962, 1963, 1968, 1971, 1972, 1973, 1975, 1977, 1995 by The Lockman Foundation. Used by permission.


Concerning Heaven

Concerning Heaven

A Discussion on the Doctrine of Heaven


Dr. Cory Gonyo – Preaching Elder FBC Bettendorf




I. Regenerated Souls, given new life in Jesus Christ, will live eternally with God


After the final judgment, believers will enter into the full enjoyment of life in the presence of God forever. Jesus will say to us, “Come, O blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world” (Matt. 25:34). We will enter a kingdom where “there shall no more be anything accursed, but the throne of God and of the Lamb shall be in it, and his servants shall worship him” (Rev. 22:3).


When referring to this place, Christians often talk about living with God “in heaven” forever. But in fact the biblical teaching is richer than that: it tells us that there will be new heavens and a new earth – an entirely renewed creation – and we will live with God there.


The Lord promises through Isaiah , “For behold, I create new heavens and a new earth; and the former things shall not be remembered” (Isa. 65:17), and speaks of “the new heavens and the new earth which I will make” (Isa. 66:22). Peter says, “according to his promise we wait for new heavens and a new earth in which righteousness dwells” (2 Peter 3:13). In John’s vision of events to follow the final judgment, he says, “Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth; for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away” (Rev. 21:1). He goes on to tell us that there will also be a new kind of unification of heaven and earth, for he sees the holy city, the “new Jerusalem,” coming “down out of heaven from God” (Rev. 21:2), and hears a voice proclaiming that “ the dwelling of God is with men. He will dwell with them, and they shall be his people, and God himself will be with them” (v.3). So there will be a joining of heaven and earth in this new creation, and there we will live in the presence of God.[1]




II. Is there a prerequisite to entering heaven?[2]


John 14:5 Thomas said to Him, “Lord, we do not know where You are going, how do we know the way?” 6 Jesus said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father but through Me. 7 “If you had known Me, you would have known My Father also; from now on you know Him, and have seen Him.”


2 Thessalonians 1:6 For after all it is only just for God to repay with affliction those who afflict you, 7 and to give relief to you who are afflicted and to us as well when the Lord Jesus will be revealed from heaven with His mighty angels in flaming fire, 8 dealing out retribution to those who do not know God and to those who do not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus. 9 These will pay the penalty of eternal destruction, away from the presence of the Lord and from the glory of His power, 10 when He comes to be glorified in His saints on that day, and to be marveled at among all who have believed — for our testimony to you was believed.


2 Timothy 2:12 If we endure, we will also reign with Him; If we deny Him, He also will deny us;



Revelation 3:21 ‘He who overcomes, I will grant to him to sit down with Me on My throne, as I also overcame and sat down with My Father on His throne.



The parable of the Marriage Feast: Matthew 22:1-14


The parable of the fishing net: Matthew 13:47-52


The parable of the weeds: Matthew 13:24-29


See other kingdom parables in Matthew13



III. What will heaven be like?


Revelation Chapter 21



Ephesians 1:18 I pray that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened, so that you will know what is the hope of His calling, what are the riches of the glory of His inheritance in the saints,


1 Corinthians 15: 35-49



IV. Why we do not “fit” on earth!


Philippians 3:20 For our citizenship is in heaven, from which also we eagerly wait for a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ; 21 who will transform the body of our humble state into conformity with the body of His glory, by the exertion of the power that He has even to subject all things to Himself.


Contrasted with . . .


Philippians 3:18 For many walk, of whom I often told you, and now tell you even weeping, that they are enemies of the cross of Christ, 19 whose end is destruction, whose god is their appetite, and whose glory is in their shame, who set their minds on earthly things.



V. What is it like for us to understand heaven on this side of it?


1 Corinthians 13:12 For now we see in a mirror dimly, but then face to face; now I know in part, but then I will know fully just as I also have been fully known.




(from Is. 64:4 and 65:17)



VI. We get Crowns?


James 1:12 Blessed is a man who perseveres under trial; for once he has been approved, he will receive the crown of life which the Lord has promised to those who love Him.


(persevere under trials)


1 Thessalonians 2:19 For who is our hope or joy or crown of exultation? Is it not even you, in the presence of our Lord Jesus at His coming?


(introduce others to Christ)


1 Corinthians 9:25 Everyone who competes in the games exercises self-control in all things. They then do it to receive a perishable wreath, but we an imperishable.


(self-control, being pure and blamesless)


1 Peter 5:2 shepherd the flock of God among you, exercising oversight not under compulsion, but voluntarily, according to the will of God; and not for sordid gain, but with eagerness; 3 nor yet as lording it over those allotted to your charge, but proving to be examples to the flock. 4 And when the Chief Shepherd appears, you will receive the unfading crown of glory.


(Christian leaders who guide others)


2 Timothy 4:8 in the future there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will award to me on that day; and not only to me, but also to all who have loved His appearing.


(kept the faith, looked forward to Jesus’ return)



***A scene in heaven . . .


Revelation 4:8 And the four living creatures, each one of them having six wings, are full of eyes around and within; and day and night they do not cease to say, ” HOLY, HOLY, HOLY IS THE LORD GOD, THE ALMIGHTY, WHO WAS AND WHO IS AND WHO IS TO COME.” 9 And when the living creatures give glory and honor and thanks to Him who sits on the throne, to Him who lives forever and ever, 10 the twenty-four elders will fall down before Him who sits on the throne, and will worship Him who lives forever and ever, and will cast their crowns before the throne, saying, 11 ” Worthy are You, our Lord and our God, to receive glory and honor and power; for You created all things, and because of Your will they existed, and were created.”


1 Corinthians 4:5 Therefore do not go on passing judgment before the time, but wait until the Lord comes who will both bring to light the things hidden in the darkness and disclose the motives of men’s hearts; and then each man’s praise will come to him from God.


VII. When does eternal life begin?


2 Corinthians 5:17 Therefore if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creature; the old things passed away; behold, new things have come.


John 5:24 “Truly, truly, I say to you, he who hears My word, and believes Him who sent Me, has eternal life, and does not come into judgment, but has passed out of death into life.


John 3:3 Jesus answered and said to him, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born again he cannot see the kingdom of God.”



VIII. Our Transformation . . .


Hebrews 10:14 For by one offering He has perfected for all time those who are sanctified.


1 John 5:11 And the testimony is this, that God has given us eternal life, and this life is in His Son. 12 He who has the Son has the life; he who does not have the Son of God does not have the life.


Romans 8:16 The Spirit Himself testifies with our spirit that we are children of God, 17 and if children, heirs also, heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ, if indeed we suffer with Him so that we may also be glorified with Him.




IX. Our perspective now? How do we live now?


Matthew 6:19 “Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. 20 “But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys, and where thieves do not break in or steal; 21 for where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.


(Discuss how?)


Matthew 6:33 “But seek first His kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.


**Mark 8:34 And He summoned the crowd with His disciples, and said to them, “If anyone wishes to come after Me, he must deny himself, and take up his cross and follow Me. 35 “For whoever wishes to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake and the gospel’s will save it. 36 “For what does it profit a man to gain the whole world, and forfeit his soul? 37 “For what will a man give in exchange for his soul? 38 “For whoever is ashamed of Me and My words in this adulterous and sinful generation, the Son of Man will also be ashamed of him when He comes in the glory of His Father with the holy angels.”


John 6:25 When they found Him on the other side of the sea, they said to Him, “Rabbi, when did You get here?” 26 Jesus answered them and said, “Truly, truly, I say to you, you seek Me, not because you saw signs, but because you ate of the loaves and were filled. 27 “Do not work for the food which perishes, but for the food which endures to eternal life, which the Son of Man will give to you, for on Him the Father, God, has set His seal.” 28 Therefore they said to Him, “What shall we do, so that we may work the works of God?” 29 Jesus answered and said to them, “This is the work of God, that you believe in Him whom He has sent.”


1 Corinthians 9:24 Do you not know that those who run in a race all run, but only one receives the prize? Run in such a way that you may win. 25 Everyone who competes in the games exercises self-control in all things. They then do it to receive a perishable wreath, but we an imperishable. 26 Therefore I run in such a way, as not without aim; I box in such a way, as not beating the air; 27 but I discipline my body and make it my slave, so that, after I have preached to others, I myself will not be disqualified.


2 Corinthians 4:16 Therefore we do not lose heart, but though our outer man is decaying, yet our inner man is being renewed day by day. 17 For momentary, light affliction is producing for us an eternal weight of glory far beyond all comparison, 18 while we look not at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen; for the things which are seen are temporal, but the things which are not seen are eternal.


(See Paul’s description of his sufferings which he calls “light affliction” in 2 Cor. 11:23-31)


Psalm 73:25 Whom have I in heaven but You? And besides You, I desire nothing on earth. 26 My flesh and my heart may fail, But God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever.


1 Peter 4:12 Beloved, do not be surprised at the fiery ordeal among you, which comes upon you for your testing, as though some strange thing were happening to you; 13 but to the degree that you share the sufferings of Christ, keep on rejoicing, so that also at the revelation of His glory you may rejoice with exultation.


2 Peter 3:11 Since all these things are to be destroyed in this way, what sort of people ought you to be in holy conduct and godliness, 12 looking for and hastening the coming of the day of God, because of which the heavens will be destroyed by burning, and the elements will melt with intense heat! 13 But according to His promise we are looking for new heavens and a new earth, in which righteousness dwells.


Philippians 3:8 More than that, I count all things to be loss in view of the surpassing value of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and count them but rubbish so that I may gain Christ, 9 and may be found in Him, not having a righteousness of my own derived from the Law, but that which is through faith in Christ, the righteousness which comes from God on the basis of faith, 10 that I may know Him and the power of His resurrection and the fellowship of His sufferings, being conformed to His death; 11 in order that I may attain to the resurrection from the dead.


Colossians 3:1 Therefore if you have been raised up with Christ, keep seeking the things above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. 2 Set your mind on the things above, not on the things that are on earth. 3 For you have died and your life is hidden with Christ in God. 4 When Christ, who is our life, is revealed, then you also will be revealed with Him in glory.


Psalm 37:4 Delight yourself in the LORD; And He will give you the desires of your heart.



X. Conclusion: we must live in the reality of the light of future glory!!


John 17:24 “Father, I desire that they also, whom You have given Me, be with Me where I am, so that they may see My glory which You have given Me, for You loved Me before the foundation of the world.


2 Corinthians 5:1 For we know that if the earthly tent which is our house is torn down, we have a building from God, a house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens. 2 For indeed in this house we groan, longing to be clothed with our dwelling from heaven, 3 inasmuch as we, having put it on, will not be found naked. 4 For indeed while we are in this tent, we groan, being burdened, because we do not want to be unclothed but to be clothed, so that what is mortal will be swallowed up by life. 5 Now He who prepared us for this very purpose is God, who gave to us the Spirit as a pledge. 6 Therefore, being always of good courage, and knowing that while we are at home in the body we are absent from the Lord — 7 for we walk by faith, not by sight — 8 we are of good courage, I say, and prefer rather to be absent from the body and to be at home with the Lord. 9 Therefore we also have as our ambition, whether at home or absent, to be pleasing to Him. 10 For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, so that each one may be recompensed for his deeds in the body, according to what he has done, whether good or bad. 11 Therefore, knowing the fear of the Lord, we persuade men, but we are made manifest to God; and I hope that we are made manifest also in your consciences.


XI. Key biblical themes of the ones who are His

Conversion      Inheritance       Suffering & Perseverance        Eternal Glorification in the Presence of God




Concerning Hell

A Biblical Discussion on the Existence and Necessity of Hell


Dr. Cory Gonyo – Preaching Elder FBC Bettendorf




2 Thess. 1: 6 For after all it is only just for God to repay with affliction those who afflict you, 7 and to give relief to you who are afflicted and to us as well when the Lord Jesus will be revealed from heaven with His mighty angels in flaming fire,


8 dealing out retribution to those who do not know God and to those who do not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus. 9 These will pay the penalty of eternal destruction, away from the presence of the Lord and from the glory of His power, 10 when He comes to be glorified in His saints on that day, and to be marveled at among all who have believed — for our testimony to you was believed.




What will hell be like?


In the OT and NT hell is described as a place. It is a place of punishment for those who do not honor God as God has provided for them to do so. “Hades” is used to refer to the abode of the dead (see Luke 16:23; Acts 2:27, 31) and is sometimes translated as “death” (see 1 Cor. 15:55). It is a place of punishment of the enemies of God (Heb. 10:27). It is a place of separation from the favor and glory of Jesus Christ (see Luke 13:27). It is an ongoing, never-ending place of torment for the soul that is away from its Creator (see Rev. 14:9-11). It is both conscious and eternal (see Matth 8:12). Though the believer in Jesus Christ will enjoy the presence of God for eternity, those who have not received Jesus will finally acknowledge him as Lord (Phil. 2:10-11) even though they will not be with Him. This makes hell also a place of great regret. People will be judged for whether or not they know God (Matth. 7:23): those that do will enter into His presence and those that do not will not. People will also be judged for their response to God’s revelation according to how much light they have received (see Luke 12:47-48) and their works (see Rev. 20:12-13 and Eccl. 12:14). All people are in some way aware of God and all have sinned, therefore everyone is without excuse concerning their impending judgment (Rom. 1:18-20, Rom. 3:23).


Selected Scriptures on Hell.


NAB Psalm 9:17 The wicked will return to Sheol, Even all the nations who forget God.


NAB Psalm 78:66 He drove His adversaries backward; He put on them an everlasting reproach.


NAB Proverbs 16:4 The LORD has made everything for its own purpose, Even the wicked for the day of evil.


Isaiah chapters 56-60


NAB Isaiah 66:24 “Then they will go forth and look On the corpses of the men Who have transgressed against Me. For their worm will not die And their fire will not be quenched; And they will be an abhorrence to all mankind.”


NAB Matthew 3:12 “His winnowing fork is in His hand, and He will thoroughly clear His threshing floor; and He will gather His wheat into the barn, but He will burn up the chaff with unquenchable fire.”


NAB Matthew 12:32 “Whoever speaks a word against the Son of Man, it shall be forgiven him; but whoever speaks against the Holy Spirit, it shall not be forgiven him, either in this age or in the age to come.


NAB Matthew 18:8 “If your hand or your foot causes you to stumble, cut it off and throw it from you; it is better for you to enter life crippled or lame, than to have two hands or two feet and be cast into the eternal fire.


NAB Matthew 25:41 “Then He will also say to those on His left, ‘Depart from Me, accursed ones, into the eternal fire which has been prepared for the devil and his angels; [and ‘those on His left’]


***         NAB Matthew 25:46 “These will go away into eternal punishment, but the righteous into eternal life.”


[The punishment is just as “eternal” as the life is!]


NAB Mark 3:29 but whoever blasphemes against the Holy Spirit never has forgiveness, but is guilty of an eternal sin” —


NAB Mark 9:43 “If your hand causes you to stumble, cut it off; it is better for you to enter life crippled, than, having your two hands, to go into hell, into the unquenchable fire, 44 {where THEIR WORM DOES NOT DIE, AND THE FIRE IS NOT QUENCHED.} 45 “If your foot causes you to stumble, cut it off; it is better for you to enter life lame, than, having your two feet, to be cast into hell, 46 {where THEIR WORM DOES NOT DIE, AND THE FIRE IS NOT QUENCHED.} 47 “If your eye causes you to stumble, throw it out; it is better for you to enter the kingdom of God with one eye, than, having two eyes, to be cast into hell, 48 where THEIR WORM DOES NOT DIE, AND THE FIRE IS NOT QUENCHED.


NAB Luke 16:26 ‘And besides all this, between us and you there is a great chasm fixed, so that those who wish to come over from here to you will not be able, and that none may cross over from there to us.’


NAB Romans 2:6 who WILL RENDER TO EACH PERSON ACCORDING TO HIS DEEDS: 7 to those who by perseverance in doing good seek for glory and honor and immortality, eternal life; 8 but to those who are selfishly ambitious and do not obey the truth, but obey unrighteousness, wrath and indignation.


NAB Romans 9: 20 On the contrary, who are you, O man, who answers back to God? The thing molded will not say to the molder, “Why did you make me like this,” will it? 21 Or does not the potter have a right over the clay, to make from the same lump one vessel for honorable use and another for common use? 22 What if God, although willing to demonstrate His wrath and to make His power known, endured with much patience vessels of wrath prepared for destruction?


NAB Hebrews 6:1 Therefore leaving the elementary teaching about the Christ, let us press on to maturity, not laying again a foundation of repentance from dead works and of faith toward God,


2 of instruction about washings and laying on of hands, and the resurrection of the dead and eternal judgment.


NAB Jude 1:7 just as Sodom and Gomorrah and the cities around them, since they in the same way as these indulged in gross immorality and went after strange flesh, are exhibited as an example in undergoing the punishment of eternal fire.


NAB Jude 1:13 [false teachers are like] wild waves of the sea, casting up their own shame like foam; wandering stars, for whom the black darkness has been reserved forever.


NAB Revelation 14:9 Then another angel, a third one, followed them, saying with a loud voice, “If anyone worships the beast and his image, and receives a mark on his forehead or on his hand, 10 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. 11 “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.”


A. Issue: Is there judgement after “conversion”?


Hebrews 10:26 For if we go on sinning willfully after receiving the knowledge of the truth, there no longer remains a sacrifice for sins, 27 but a terrifying expectation of judgment and THE FURY OF A FIRE WHICH WILL CONSUME THE ADVERSARIES. 28 Anyone who has set aside the Law of Moses dies without mercy on the testimony of two or three witnesses. 29 How much severer punishment do you think he will deserve who has trampled under foot the Son of God, and has regarded as unclean the blood of the covenant by which he was sanctified, and has insulted the Spirit of grace?


30 For we know Him who said, “VENGEANCE IS MINE, I WILL REPAY.” And again, “THE LORD WILL JUDGE HIS PEOPLE.” 31 It is a terrifying thing to fall into the hands of the living God.


Arguably from Scripture, the person who does this was not authentically “converted” in the first place! Remember the parable of the sower and the 4 soils in Matthew 13? There are some that hear and “receive” the message, but not all persevere unto final salvation with Christ.




Romans 8:1 Therefore there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.




2 Corinthians 5:10 For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, so that each one may be recompensed for his deeds in the body, according to what he has done, whether good or bad. (this is to Christians, see context)


B. Issue: Is death a final action or event? Or is it an ongoing state? If so, what defines that state?


Genesis 32 The woman said to the serpent, “From the fruit of the trees of the garden we may eat; 3 but from the fruit of the tree which is in the middle of the garden, God has said, ‘You shall not eat from it or touch it, or you will die.”‘ 4 The serpent said to the woman, “You surely will not die! 5 “For God knows that in the day you eat from it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.”


2 Corinthians 5:14 For the love of Christ controls us, having concluded this, that one died for all, therefore all died;


15 and He died for all, so that they who live might no longer live for themselves, but for Him who died and rose again on their behalf.


NAB Ephesians 2:1 And you were dead in your trespasses and sins,


2 in which you formerly walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, of the spirit that is now working in the sons of disobedience.


NAB Colossians 2:13 When you were dead in your transgressions and the uncircumcision of your flesh, He made you alive together with Him, having forgiven us all our transgressions,


NAB 1 John 3:14 We know that we have passed out of death into life, because we love the brethren. He who does not love abides [or, some translations say “remains”] in death. 15 Everyone who hates his brother is a murderer; and you know that no murderer has eternal life abiding in him.


NAB Revelation 20:10 And the devil who deceived them was thrown into the lake of fire and brimstone, where the beast and the false prophet are also; and they will be tormented day and night forever and ever. 11 Then I saw a great white throne and Him who sat upon it, from whose presence earth and heaven fled away, and no place was found for them. 12 And I saw the dead, the great and the small, standing before the throne, and books were opened; and another book was opened, which is the book of life; and the dead were judged from the things which were written in the books, according to their deeds. 13 And the sea gave up the dead which were in it, and death and Hades gave up the dead which were in them; and they were judged, every one of them according to their deeds. 14 Then death and Hades were thrown into the lake of fire. This is the second death, the lake of fire. 15 And if anyone’s name was not found written in the book of life, he was thrown into the lake of fire.


They are definitively existing yet they are called “dead.” So therefore, to be dead does not mean to cease to exist but rather to exist apart from Christ, who is the definition of life. This is hell.


C. Issue: is annihilationism possible? Does the person outside of Christ just cease to exist at some time?


Rev. 14:11 describes the punishment of followers of the Antichrist as “… the smoke of their torment rises for ever and ever.” (See also Rev. 20:10).


NAB Matthew 26:24 “The Son of Man is to go, just as it is written of Him; but woe to that man by whom the Son of Man is betrayed! It would have been good for that man if he had not been born.”


***The last two issues (B and C) describe the state of living lost as one of spiritual death though the individual still exists. Hence, death means living away from or without Christ and life means living in or with Christ. This is the true definition of life and death.




1 John 5:12 says, “He who has the Son has the life; he who does not have the Son of God does not have the life.”


D. Issue: Is there such a thing as reincarnation? Or a second chance after death?


Hebrews 9: 27 And inasmuch as it is appointed for men to die once and after this comes judgment,


28 so Christ also, having been offered once to bear the sins of many, will appear a second time for salvation without reference to sin, to those who eagerly await Him.


E. Issue: When does eternal life start?


NAB John 5:24 “Truly, truly, I say to you, he who hears My word, and believes Him who sent Me, has eternal life, and does not come into judgment, but has passed out of death into life.


F. Issue: Is God glorified by eternal punishment?


2 Thess. 1: 6 For after all it is only just for God to repay with affliction those who afflict you,


7 and to give relief to you who are afflicted and to us as well when the Lord Jesus will be revealed from heaven with His mighty angels in flaming fire,


8 dealing out retribution to those who do not know God and to those who do not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus.


9 These will pay the penalty of eternal destruction, away from the presence of the Lord and from the glory of His power,


10 when He comes to be glorified in His saints on that day, and to be marveled at among all who have believed — for our testimony to you was believed.


G. Issues: Is God just? And if so, what does this mean for the glory of God?


NAB Psalm 7:11 God is a righteous judge, And a God who has indignation every day.


NAB Revelation 16:5 And I heard the angel of the waters saying, “Righteous are You, who are and who were, O Holy One, because You judged these things;


Revelation 17: 7 And I heard the altar saying, “Yes, O Lord God, the Almighty, true and righteous are Your judgments.”


NAB Revelation 19:1 After these things I heard something like a loud voice of a great multitude in heaven, saying, “Hallelujah! Salvation and glory and power belong to our God;


2 BECAUSE HIS JUDGMENTS ARE TRUE AND RIGHTEOUS; for He has judged the great harlot who was corrupting the earth with her immorality, and HE HAS AVENGED THE BLOOD OF HIS BOND-SERVANTS ON HER.”


Biblically, God’s judgment is an action which enhances God’s glory!


God’s glory is the tantamount concern in all of the universe:


NAB Leviticus 10:3 Then Moses said to Aaron, “It is what the LORD spoke, saying, ‘By those who come near Me I will be treated as holy, And before all the people I will be honored.”‘ So Aaron, therefore, kept silent.


***         NAB Isaiah 48:9 “For the sake of My name I delay My wrath, And for My praise I restrain it for you, In order not to cut you off. 10 “Behold, I have refined you, but not as silver; I have tested you in the furnace of affliction. 11 “For My own sake, for My own sake, I will act; For how can My name be profaned? And My glory I will not give to another.


NAB Isaiah 66:19 “I will set a sign among them and will send survivors from them to the nations: Tarshish, Put, Lud, Meshech, Rosh, Tubal and Javan, to the distant coastlands that have neither heard My fame nor seen My glory. And they will declare My glory among the nations.


NAB Revelation 19:1 After these things I heard something like a loud voice of a great multitude in heaven, saying, “Hallelujah! Salvation and glory and power belong to our God;


2 BECAUSE HIS JUDGMENTS ARE TRUE AND RIGHTEOUS; for He has judged the great harlot who was corrupting the earth with her immorality, and HE HAS AVENGED THE BLOOD OF HIS BOND-SERVANTS ON HER.”


NAB Revelation 19:3 And a second time they said, “Hallelujah! HER SMOKE RISES UP FOREVER AND EVER.”


The heavenly multitude praises God for his judgment on sin because judgment is the most appropriate response to affronts to God’s glory.


God can cease to demand purity and to punish sin only when He ceases to be holy or pure Himself. He would therefore cease to be God. Meditate on this for a while also. If hell IS a FAIR and JUST punishment for denying God, in all of its horror and eternal conscious torment, how much more holy and pure and perfect and righteous must God be?!


H. Issue: How long will hell last?


The same words translated “for ever and ever” are used for the existence of God and His reign (Rev. 4:10 and 10:6) as well as the duration of the torment and smoke of hell (Rev. 14:11 and 20:10). For ever and ever simply means what it says; always, never-ending, and eternal without end.


NAB Psalm 81:15 “Those who hate the LORD would pretend obedience to Him, And their time of punishment would be forever.




NAB Daniel 12:2 “Many of those who sleep in the dust of the ground will awake, these to everlasting life, but the others to disgrace and everlasting contempt.


I. Issue: Is salvation going to happen to all people, after all the Bible says that God desires all to be saved, doesn’t it?


Let’s look at one author’s understanding of this issue in the context of a single letter.


NAB 1 John 2:2 and He Himself is the propitiation for our sins; and not for ours only, but also for those of the whole world.


NAB 1 John 3:14 We know that we have passed out of death into life, because we love the brethren. He who does not love abides in death. 15 Everyone who hates his brother is a murderer; and you know that no murderer has eternal life abiding in him.


*Also:    NAB 1 Corinthians 6:9 Or do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived; neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor effeminate, nor homosexuals, 10 nor thieves, nor the covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers, will inherit the kingdom of God.


Salvation is NOT universal. If it were, this would impinge on God’s character of righteousness which can allow no evil in His presence. There is a universal availability of salvation. But it has to be appropriated personally through faith by individuals. Therefore, salvation is for “all” people, but “all” people do not accept it. “All” who are in Christ will be saved from the wrath to come. This can be explained as follows: The cross is sufficient for all, but is efficient only for those who will make the necessary response of repentance and faith. The cross without faith is like a vaccine without a syringe.




J. Issue: When a person says, “I’m saved,” what are they saved from?


A. Our sins? Yes. Romans 6-8, for instance, shows the freeing of the believer from the bondage of sin to be the slave of a new and righteous master Jesus Christ so that sin no longer controls us. Scripture also directly infers that we are saved from the self or “flesh” and from the power of Satan (each of which influences the control of sin over the person). But is that all?


B. We are also saved from God’s wrath on sin! Following is a list of Scriptures on God’s wrath:


Romans 2: 5 But because of your stubbornness and unrepentant heart you are storing up wrath for yourself in the day of wrath and revelation of the righteous judgment of God,




7 to those who by perseverance in doing good seek for glory and honor and immortality, eternal life;


8 but to those who are selfishly ambitious and do not obey the truth, but obey unrighteousness, wrath and indignation.


NAB 1 Thessalonians 1:10 and to wait for His Son from heaven, whom He raised from the dead, that is Jesus, who rescues us from the wrath to come.




NAB Deuteronomy 32:39 ‘See now that I, I am He, And there is no god besides Me; It is I who put to death and give life. I have wounded and it is I who heal, And there is no one who can deliver from My hand. 40 ‘Indeed, I lift up My hand to heaven, And say, as I live forever, 41 If I sharpen My flashing sword, And My hand takes hold on justice, I will render vengeance on My adversaries, And I will repay those who hate Me.


NAB Deuteronomy 32:43 “Rejoice, O nations, with His people; For He will avenge the blood of His servants, And will render vengeance on His adversaries, And will atone for His land and His people.”


NAB Psalm 1:5 Therefore the wicked will not stand in the judgment, Nor sinners in the assembly of the righteous.


***         NAB Psalm 2:12 Do homage to the Son, that He not become angry, and you perish in the way, For His wrath may soon be kindled. How blessed are all who take refuge in Him!


NAB Psalm 95:11 “Therefore I swore in My anger, Truly they shall not enter into My rest.”


NAB Psalm 130:3 If You, LORD, should mark iniquities, O Lord, who could stand?


NAB Matthew 3:7 But when he saw many of the Pharisees and Sadducees coming for baptism, he said to them, “You brood of vipers, who warned you to flee from the wrath to come?


NAB Luke 12:5 “But I will warn you whom to fear: fear the One who, after He has killed, has authority to cast into hell; yes, I tell you, fear Him! (Only the Lord God has this authority, no one else!)


NAB Romans 1:18 For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men who suppress the truth in unrighteousness,


NAB Romans 9:22 What if God, although willing to demonstrate His wrath and to make His power known, endured with much patience vessels of wrath prepared for destruction?


NAB 2 Corinthians 5:11 Therefore, knowing the fear of the Lord, we persuade men, but we are made manifest to God; and I hope that we are made manifest also in your consciences.


NAB Hebrews 12:28 Therefore, since we receive a kingdom which cannot be shaken, let us show gratitude, by which we may offer to God an acceptable service with reverence and awe; 29 for our God is a consuming fire.


NAB Revelation 6:16 and they said to the mountains and to the rocks, “Fall on us and hide us from the presence of Him who sits on the throne, and from the wrath of the Lamb;




K. Issue: Is it fair for an eternal (infinite) punishment to be dealt out against a finite being who has sinned in a finite way?


When a ‘religious’ person does good works thinking that this will earn them merit to enter heaven, that person is declaring war on the glory of God by attempting to find salvation independently of God. Unbelief in salvation by Grace through faith alone followed by obedient discipleship (Eph. 2:8-10) is an open act of rebellion against the glory of God and is therefore punishable by eternal destruction. God must get the credit, the glory for the work of salvation (Ps. 3:8). The sin of rejecting the eternal hope offered to us in the sacrifice of Jesus Christ is in fact a sin with eternal weight. It is not a one time, finite event. The focus is not just on the human’s temporal sin or bad action. Sin is only sin so far as it is defined by the character of the one sinned against. If I sin against you as a human friend, you can forgive me for, say, taking your ice cream cone. I can buy you another one, pay you back, etc. But when we sin against infinite glory and pure holiness, there is no way that we could ever pay retribution to Him. Sin is defined by whom the sin is against. Therefore, sin against God, eternal God, is punishable by eternal means, that is, hell.


Therefore, we need an equally eternal retribution or payment for our sins in order to live forever with God. This is why Jesus Christ, God in the flesh, had to come and die for us because no amount of our own payment, even eternity spent in hell, could satisfy God’s wrath on our unholiness. But Christ’s sacrifice is once-for-all, precisely because He is the eternal one. Jesus did for us what we could never do on our own for ourselves.


Our Response to all of this?


1. Repent from your sin and self and turn to God for salvation. Fear God in His righteousness so that you need not fear His wrath.


2. Redefine your understanding of Heaven and Hell. Hell is existing away from the Creator God forever. It is existing NOT for the purpose for which you were created. Heaven is to exist forever with the One who made you so that you will fulfill the purpose for which you were made, eternal fellowship and glory with your Creator. To have a place where everything is that you could ever want or ever thought that heaven would be like – no tears, old friends and relatives, mansions, streets of gold, glassy seas, no pain, no sorrow – to have such a place without the presence of Jesus Christ WOULD BE HELL. Jesus defines what heaven is. Heaven is to be in the presence of the very GOD! (See 2 Thess. 1:9)


3. Tell anyone and everyone of the hope of glory in the crucified and risen Lord Jesus Christ. He is the only way, only truth, and only life!


4. Surrender your life to God’s will in all things.


5. Go on a mission trip to tell of the good news of salvation from judgment in Jesus. Glorify God in all the nations!


With all of this biblical teaching we must understand that wrath against sin is as much a part of God’s nature as God’s love. They are on equal footing as being intrinsic to God’s nature. Yes the Bible says that God is love, but it does not say that God is only love. It also says that God is holy, pure, righteous, and angry at man’s sin. The greatest surprise is not that some are lost, but that any are saved at all! God’s love can only be understood in the full disclosure of His entire person including His wrath.


Warning! Do not commit idolatry and reject the God of the Bible for a “god of your own making” that is softer, nicer, and gentler. Psalm 50 says in part:


16 But to the wicked God says, “What right have you to tell of My statutes And to take My covenant in your mouth?


17 “For you hate discipline, And you cast My words behind you.


18 “When you see a thief, you are pleased with him, And you associate with adulterers.


19 “You let your mouth loose in evil And your tongue frames deceit.


20 “You sit and speak against your brother; You slander your own mother’s son.


21 “These things you have done and I kept silence; You thought that I was just like you; I will reprove you and state the case in order before your eyes.


We must not make God in our own image. We are not God. He is true and righteous all together and He has revealed Himself. Who are we to say, “that’s not God” when He declares in His own right, from His written Word, Who He is? We either accept Him as the Sovereign, Creator, Lord and Savior or we commit some form of idolatry.



The Church that Jesus Builds

The Church that Jesus Builds

Dr. Cory Gonyo – Preaching Elder FBC Bettendorf


First Baptist Church exists to glorify Christ in worship, discipleship, and mission. As a fellowship of baptized believers in Jesus Christ, we strive to accomplish this mission through authentic discipleship, God-centered worship, world-wide mission, and loving ministry … all dependent upon God in prayer.




Jesus said that He would build His church upon the confession that Jesus is the Messiah, the Son of God (Matt. 16:13-19).  All who are in Jesus Christ make up a fellowship defined by truth and partnership with the Apostles, God the Father, Jesus Christ God the Son, God the Holy Spirit, and one another (1 John 1:3-9; 2 Cor. 13:14). Biblical fellowship is a noun (who we are), not just a verb (what we do). Biblical fellowship is better defined as a participation in all of the will and ways of the One True God, His church, and His Kingdom. 




              Jesus commissioned His followers to make disciples of all nations (Matt. 28:18-20).  A Christian who is not living as a disciple is a contradiction to Jesus’ teachings.  True disciples or followers of Jesus Christ abide in Him always (John 15:5), by abiding in His Word (John 8:31-32) being set free by the Son Himself (John 8:36), and they experience answered prayer that is in accordance with Jesus’ Word (John 15:7).  True disciples love other Christians (John 13:34-35), and prove that they are true followers of Jesus Christ by bearing fruit of godliness and witness (John 15:8).



Biblical WORSHIP based upon the GREAT COMMANDMENTS

              Jesus summed up all of the Christian faith in the two great commandments: to love the Lord your God with all your heart, mind, soul, and strength; and to love your neighbor as yourself (Matt. 22:36-40; Mark 12:29-31; Luke 10:27).  Jesus taught that there is a difference between false worship and true worship (Matt. 15:2-14).  Jesus revealed to us that God the Father seeks true worshippers and that all who worship God must worship Him in spirit and truth (John 4:23-24).  Worship is not something we do on Sundays only.  Worship is a lifestyle of surrender and service to the Living Lord, Jesus Christ (Rom. 12:1-2).  Worship is not a means to another end.  Worship is the end for which we were created.  True worshippers glorify God in all things, seeking to exalt God and humble themselves. 




Biblical EVANGELISM Empowered by the HOLY SPIRIT

              Jesus Christ gives His disciples power by the Holy Spirit to be witnesses to the fact that Jesus Christ is alive, resurrected from the dead.  Luke is the author of the Gospel of Luke and the book of Acts. Luke 24:45-47 and Acts 1:8 make a bridge that ties the books together.  Pay close attention to the word “witness” in both passages.  Acts 1:8 is literally Luke’s outline for the whole book of Acts.  What is “Holy-Spirit-Filled” witnessing? Jesus Christ is the only Savior who was crucified on the cross for the sins of men, buried, and raised again to life by the power of God.  May the Holy Spirit empower us also to witness to the resurrection of Jesus Christ so that sinners may call upon His name and be saved (Romans 10:9-15).



Biblical MISSION based upon the GREAT COMMISSION

Jesus gave the Great Commission in Matthew 28:18-20.  Jesus’ sovereign command as the resurrected and installed King of God’s Kingdom is to make disciples of all nations.  Every nation, tribe, and tongue must hear the gospel of Jesus Christ.  Jesus is the Savior for all peoples of the world and He gave His church the commission to proclaim His gospel to all nations. 




              Jesus summed up all of the Christian faith in the two great commandments: to love the Lord your God with all your heart, mind, soul, and strength; and to love your neighbor as yourself (Matt. 22:36-40; Mark 12:29-31; Luke 10:27).  When Jesus was asked, “Who is my neighbor?” He replied by teaching about the Good Samaritan who helped the downtrodden in time of need (Luke 10:29-37).  It is our aspiration to serve and help people in the love of Jesus Christ sacrificially (John 15:13), without discrimination (James 2:1-18), as serving the Lord Himself (Matt. 25:32-40), glorifying God in all things (1 Cor. 10:31-33), all because we were created in Christ Jesus for this purpose (Eph. 2:8-10). 



Biblical PRAYER dependent upon the Living God for all things

Jesus said that if we abide in Him and His words abide in us, we can ask whatever we wish and it will be done for us (John 15:7).  The key to biblical prayer is that it be in response to God’s revelation.  Let us pray the I.O.U.S. as the Scriptures teach.  Incline my heart to Your testimonies and not to dishonest gain (Ps. 119:36).  Open my eyes, that I may behold wonderful things from Your law (Ps. 86:11).  Teach me Your way, O LORD; I will walk in Your truth; Unite my heart to fear Your name (Ps. 86:11).  As for me, I shall behold Your face in righteousness; I will be satisfied with Your likeness when I awake (Ps. 17:15).  All church ministries must be dependent upon the Living Lord Jesus in prayer. 



The Church that Jesus Uses

The Church that Jesus Uses

Dr. Cory Gonyo – Preaching Elder FBC Bettendorf


The New Testament book of Acts reveals the church that Jesus uses.

Jesus empowers the church with His Holy Spirit

in order to glorify His Name (Acts 4:12) in gospel proclamation

for the salvation of people from every nation, tribe, and tongue.



1. Repents. The church that Jesus uses waits upon the Lord in Prayer (Acts 1:14, 24; 2:42), witnesses to the Lord in Power (Acts 2:4, 17-18, 33, 38), and walks with the Lord our Sovereign (Acts 2:36-38). The church that Jesus uses is made up of believers in Jesus Christ’s death and resurrection who have repented from their sin and turned their lives over to Jesus Christ for the advance of His Kingdom.


2. Disciples. In the church that Jesus uses, people react to God’s actions in the world as He calls the church into existence. The Birth of the Lord’s Church in Acts 2 shows us that the church: a) was of “one mind” (Acts 2:45-47), b) called for a personal response to “repent and each of you be baptized” (Acts 2:38), and c) culminated in a new corporate life characterized by inward devotion “to the apostles’ teaching” (Acts 2:42), upward praise of God (Acts 2:46-47), and outward witness (Acts 2:47). The church that the Lord Jesus uses is devoted to the apostles’ teaching!


3. Trusts God’s Provisions. The church that Jesus uses finds that all of its provisions come from God. God provides Proof that He is working (Acts 3:1-10), uses Powerful Preaching (Acts 3:11-26), and even provides Persecution leading to further Proclamation (Acts 4:1-12). There is salvation in “no other Name” (Acts 4:12). God gives Perseverance (Acts 4:13-22) and His Predestined Power is over all of this (Acts 4:23-33). God provides the unity of the body of believers (Acts 4:32-37). The church that Jesus uses trusts in all of the Lord’s provisions.


4. Unifies. Unlike any other organization in the world, the church that Jesus uses has 4 unique qualities: a) it is a Unified church (Acts 4:32-37 “One heart and soul”), b) is an Unselfish church (Acts 5:1-11), c) has an Uncanny Expectation (Acts 5:12-26), d) has an Unyielding Ministry (Acts 5:27-42). “We must obey God” (Acts 5:29). The message is that God raised Jesus from the dead! The church that Jesus uses must be truly unified, unselfish, expecting God to lead us in unyielding gospel ministry.


5. Prioritizes Biblical Ministry. The church that Jesus uses is defined by Christ, not conflicts (Acts 6:1-6). Our purpose is to spread the Word, bringing obedience to the faith (Acts 6:7). When complaints arise, the congregation unifies, the Spirit is already organized, the leaders prioritize prayer and the word, new servants are authorized, problems vaporize, the church’s purpose is not compromised, and the church will rise not divide. The church that Jesus uses sees conflict as opportunity to unify, in order to prioritize prayer and the ministry of the Word.


6. Sees Itself In God’s Covenant Plan. When martyred, Stephen recounted the covenant-making God (Acts 7:2-8), the providence of God (Acts 7:9-16), God’s chosen deliverer Moses and Passover salvation (Acts 7:17-43), and God’s fulfillment of the Promised Land given (Acts 7:44-50). Stephen applied this to God’s Chosen Deliverer Jesus Christ (Acts 7:51-53), Who then appears in person to Stephen (Acts 7:54-56). The church that Jesus uses takes its place in the history of the covenant-making God who sent Jesus and is bringing all things to certain encounter with Jesus!


7. Proclaims the Gospel. Jesus uses His church to always and everywhere proclaim His saving gospel to all nations. When the great persecution happened, the disciples went about preaching the word (Acts 8:4). Jesus visits the persecutor of the church, Saul (Paul), and calls Him to Himself (Acts 9). Peter preaches salvation to Cornelius’ house and God gives gentiles grace (Acts 10). The church that Jesus uses preaches the gospel in everything everywhere so sinners from every nation, tribe, and tongue may be saved.


8. Experiences God-Given Growth. When the hand of the Lord is with His people, sinners will hear the gospel, believe, and turn to the Lord (Acts 11:21). Individual believers come together in church and churches engage in ministry to help other churches (Acts 11:29). True church growth is from God, yet believers must work like the farmer who plants seed. The church that Jesus uses works faithfully in the fields of the world, waiting upon the Lord to give the growth.


9. Expects the Holy Spirit to Call Out Servants. The church in Antioch (Acts 13) was a result of the witness of scattered but faithful believers (Acts 8:4; 11:19-30). The Holy Spirit set apart Barnabas and Saul/Paul for missionary service and the church laid hands on them to send them (Acts 14:2-3). God’s missionaries reported back to their local church in Antioch (Acts 14:26-27). Antioch became equally important as the Jerusalem church, advancing the Kingdom of Jesus Christ throughout the world as it supported Paul and others (Acts 15:22-23, 30, 35; 18:22). The church that Jesus uses is a center for world-wide mission.



Missions in the Bible

A Biblical Survey of God’s Mission, a.k.a. Missions


Dr. Cory Gonyo – Preaching Elder, First Baptist Church of Bettendorf




And thus I aspired to preach the gospel, not where Christ was already named,


so that I would not build on another man’s foundation. Romans 15:20




I. God’s Mission Directive in the OT


A. The Pentateuch


NAB Genesis 3:15 And I will put enmity Between you and the woman, And between your seed and her seed; He shall bruise you on the head, And you shall bruise him on the heel.”


NAB Genesis 12:1 Now the LORD said to Abram, “Go forth from your country, And from your relatives And from your father’s house, To the land which I will show you; 2 And I will make you a great nation, And I will bless you, And make your name great; And so you shall be a blessing; 3 And I will bless those who bless you, And the one who curses you I will curse. And in you all the families of the earth will be blessed.”


NAB Exodus 9:16 “But, indeed, for this reason I have allowed you to remain, in order to show you My power and in order to proclaim My name through all the earth.


B. The Historical Books


NAB Joshua 2:10 “For we have heard how the LORD dried up the water of the Red Sea before you when you came out of Egypt, and what you did to the two kings of the Amorites who were beyond the Jordan, to Sihon and Og, whom you utterly destroyed. 11 “When we heard it, our hearts melted and no courage remained in any man any longer because of you; for the LORD your God, He is God in heaven above and on earth beneath.


NAB Joshua 4:23 “For the LORD your God dried up the waters of the Jordan before you until you had crossed, just as the LORD your God had done to the Red Sea, which He dried up before us until we had crossed; 24 that all the peoples of the earth may know that the hand of the LORD is mighty, so that you may fear the LORD your God forever.”


NAB 1 Samuel 17:46 “This day the LORD will deliver you up into my hands, and I will strike you down and remove your head from you. And I will give the dead bodies of the army of the Philistines this day to the birds of the sky and the wild beasts of the earth, that all the earth may know that there is a God in Israel, 47 and that all this assembly may know that the LORD does not deliver by sword or by spear; for the battle is the LORD’S and He will give you into our hands.”


NAB 1 Kings 8:41 “Also concerning the foreigner who is not of Your people Israel, when he comes from a far country for Your name’s sake 42 (for they will hear of Your great name and Your mighty hand, and of Your outstretched arm); when he comes and prays toward this house, 43 hear in heaven Your dwelling place, and do according to all for which the foreigner calls to You, in order that all the peoples of the earth may know Your name, to fear You, as do Your people Israel, and that they may know that this house which I have built is called by Your name.


NAB 1 Kings 8:59 “And may these words of mine, with which I have made supplication before the LORD, be near to the LORD our God day and night, that He may maintain the cause of His servant and the cause of His people Israel, as each day requires, 60 so that all the peoples of the earth may know that the LORD is God; there is no one else.


C. Poetic Books


NAB Job 19:25 “As for me, I know that my Redeemer lives, And at the last He will take His stand on the earth.


1st Advent

Psalm 22 – the suffering Savior prophesied


NAB Psalm 16:9 Therefore my heart is glad and my glory rejoices; My flesh also will dwell securely. 10 For You will not abandon my soul to Sheol; Nor will You allow Your Holy One to undergo decay.


2nd Advent

NAB Psalm 2:8 ‘Ask of Me, and I will surely give the nations as Your inheritance, And the very ends of the earth as Your possession. 9 ‘You shall break them with a rod of iron, You shall shatter them like earthenware.”‘


Psalm 67 and Psalm 72!!


NAB Psalm 96:3 Tell of His glory among the nations, His wonderful deeds among all the peoples.


NAB Psalm 96:10 Say among the nations, “The LORD reigns; Indeed, the world is firmly established, it will not be moved; He will judge the peoples with equity.”


D. Prophetic Books


2 cross-cultural missions books in the OT: Jonah and Daniel


NAB Isaiah 42:1 “Behold, My Servant, whom I uphold; My chosen one in whom My soul delights. I have put My Spirit upon Him; He will bring forth justice to the nations.


NAB Isaiah 42:6 “I am the LORD, I have called you in righteousness, I will also hold you by the hand and watch over you, And I will appoint you as a covenant to the people, As a light to the nations, 7 To open blind eyes, To bring out prisoners from the dungeon And those who dwell in darkness from the prison. 8 “I am the LORD, that is My name; I will not give My glory to another, Nor My praise to graven images.


NAB Isaiah 49:6 He says, “It is too small a thing that You should be My Servant To raise up the tribes of Jacob and to restore the preserved ones of Israel; I will also make You a light of the nations So that My salvation may reach to the end of the earth.”


NAB Isaiah 11:10 Then in that day The nations will resort to the root of Jesse, Who will stand as a signal for the peoples; And His resting place will be glorious.


NAB Isaiah 43:10 “You are My witnesses,” declares the LORD, “And My servant whom I have chosen, So that you may know and believe Me And understand that I am He. Before Me there was no God formed, And there will be none after Me. 11 “I, even I, am the LORD, And there is no savior besides Me.


NAB Isaiah 6:8 Then I heard the voice of the Lord, saying, “Whom shall I send, and who will go for Us?” Then I said, “Here am I. Send me!”


Ezekiel 36:23 “I will vindicate the holiness of My great name which has been profaned among the nations, which you have profaned in their midst. Then the nations will know that I am the LORD,” declares the Lord GOD, “when I prove Myself holy among you in their sight.


II. God’s Mission Directive in the NT


A. The Gospels = the presentation of Jesus the Christ as the central figure in God’s mission to the world


NAB Matthew 24:14 “This gospel of the kingdom shall be preached in the whole world as a testimony to all the nations, and then the end will come.


NAB Matthew 25:32 “All the nations will be gathered before Him; and He will separate them from one another, as the shepherd separates the sheep from the goats;


NAB Matthew 28:19 “Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, 20 teaching them to observe all that I commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.”


NAB Mark 11:17 And He began to teach and say to them, “Is it not written, ‘MY HOUSE SHALL BE CALLED A HOUSE OF PRAYER FOR ALL THE NATIONS’? But you have made it a ROBBERS’ DEN.”


NAB Luke 19:10 “For the Son of Man has come to seek and to save that which was lost.”


Luke 24:46 and He said to them, “Thus it is written, that the Christ would suffer and rise again from the dead the third day, 47 and that repentance for forgiveness of sins would be proclaimed in His name to all the nations, beginning from Jerusalem.


NAB John 6:38 “For I have come down from heaven, not to do My own will, but the will of Him who sent Me.


B. Historical


NAB Acts 1:8 but you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be My witnesses both in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and even to the remotest part of the earth.”


Acts 2 – Pentecost, the watershed of evangelical missions


NAB Acts 4:12 “And there is salvation in no one else; for there is no other name under heaven that has been given among men by which we must be saved.”


NAB Acts 14:21 After they had preached the gospel to that city and had made many disciples, they returned to Lystra and to Iconium and to Antioch, 22 strengthening the souls of the disciples, encouraging them to continue in the faith, and saying, “Through many tribulations we must enter the kingdom of God.” 23 When they had appointed elders for them in every church, having prayed with fasting, they commended them to the Lord in whom they had believed.


Paul’s method? 1) Evangelizing the lost.   2) Edifying the believers.   3) Establishing local churches.


C. The Letters


NAB Romans 1:5 through whom we have received grace and apostleship to bring about the obedience of faith among all the Gentiles for His name’s sake,


NAB Romans 1:16 For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek.


NAB Romans 16:25 Now to Him who is able to establish you according to my gospel and the preaching of Jesus Christ, according to the revelation of the mystery which has been kept secret for long ages past, 26 but now is manifested, and by the Scriptures of the prophets, according to the commandment of the eternal God, has been made known to all the nations, leading to obedience of faith; NAB Galatians 3:8 The Scripture, foreseeing that God would justify the Gentiles by faith, preached the gospel beforehand to Abraham, saying, “ALL THE NATIONS WILL BE BLESSED IN YOU.”


NAB Galatians 3:8 The Scripture, foreseeing that God would justify the Gentiles by faith, preached the gospel beforehand to Abraham, saying, “ALL THE NATIONS WILL BE BLESSED IN YOU.”


Ephesians 2 – 3 breaks down the barriers between Jew and Gentile. Gentiles are fellow heirs of God.


NAB Colossians 1:25 Of this church I was made a minister according to the stewardship from God bestowed on me for your benefit, so that I might fully carry out the preaching of the word of God, 26 that is, the mystery which has been hidden from the past ages and generations, but has now been manifested to His saints, 27 to whom God willed to make known what is the riches of the glory of this mystery among the Gentiles, which is Christ in you, the hope of glory.


NAB 1 Thessalonians 1:7 so that you became an example to all the believers in Macedonia and in Achaia. 8 For the word of the Lord has sounded forth from you, not only in Macedonia and Achaia, but also in every place your faith toward God has gone forth, so that we have no need to say anything. 9 For they themselves report about us what kind of a reception we had with you, and how you turned to God from idols to serve a living and true God, 10 and to wait for His Son from heaven, whom He raised from the dead, that is Jesus, who rescues us from the wrath to come.


NAB 1 Timothy 2:3 This is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Savior, 4 who desires all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth. 5 For there is one God, and one mediator also between God and men, the man Christ Jesus, 6 who gave Himself as a ransom for all, the testimony given at the proper time. 7 For this I was appointed a preacher and an apostle (I am telling the truth, I am not lying) as a teacher of the Gentiles in faith and truth.


NAB 1 Timothy 3:16 By common confession, great is the mystery of godliness: He who was revealed in the flesh, Was vindicated in the Spirit, Seen by angels, Proclaimed among the nations, Believed on in the world, Taken up in glory.


D. The Culmination of All of History


NAB Revelation 2:26 ‘He who overcomes, and he who keeps My deeds until the end, TO HIM I WILL GIVE AUTHORITY OVER THE NATIONS;


NAB Revelation 7:9 After these things I looked, and behold, a great multitude which no one could count, from every nation and all tribes and peoples and tongues, standing before the throne and before the Lamb, clothed in white robes, and palm branches were in their hands; 10 and they cry out with a loud voice, saying, “Salvation to our God who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb.”


NAB Revelation 12:5 And she gave birth to a son, a male child, who is to rule all the nations with a rod of iron; and her child was caught up to God and to His throne.


NAB Revelation 15:3 And they sang the song of Moses, the bond-servant of God, and the song of the Lamb, saying, “Great and marvelous are Your works, O Lord God, the Almighty; Righteous and true are Your ways, King of the nations!


NAB Revelation 15:4 “Who will not fear, O Lord, and glorify Your name? For You alone are holy; For ALL THE NATIONS WILL COME AND WORSHIP BEFORE YOU, FOR YOUR RIGHTEOUS ACTS HAVE BEEN REVEALED.


The Local Church & Missions

The Local Church & Missions


Pastor’s Position Paper[1] & Selected Quotes


Dr. Cory Gonyo – Preaching Elder FBC Bettendorf





God expects His people in the local New Testament (NT) church to be involved in exalting His name among unreached people groups or “nations.” It is principally the NT church that has the priority and prerogative in carrying out the command of proclaiming God’s excellencies, especially salvation in Jesus Christ, to “all the nations.” George W. Peters writes:


“It must be recognized, however, that ideally the church, and not the missionary sending agency as such, is God’s authority and creation for sending forth missionaries. It may well have been stated that the church’s mission truly belongs to the church, and not to isolated missionary societies. The mission agency ought to be the church’s provision, instrument, and arm to expedite efficiently her task. It can neither displace nor replace the church though it may be called upon to act in the place of the church.”[2]




            Perhaps not every Christian is to be an overseas missionary, for there are different gifts given to the church for different reasons (Eph. 4:1-16). But every Christian church should be involved in the God-given mission to propagate the gospel, especially to those who are unreached (whether they are in another country or next door). Again, Peters:


“Missions is inherent in the very nature of Christianity and a true product of our personal faith in proper relationship to and Spirit-enlightened understanding of Biblical Christianity. Such a statement does not mean that mission need not be taught and nurtured in the Christian church and that it grows spontaneously or automatically. Nothing is spontaneous in Christianity. All must be cultivated and nurtured. But it does mean that when the whole counsel of God is taught, believed and obeyed, missions will cease to be considered a side work or something we may engage in or not. It will cease to be optional and an ‘elective.’ It will not be merely a work of the church, beneficial and praiseworthy; it will be the work of the church, absolutely essential to the church to retain her Christian character and purpose. It will become primary and dominant in the purpose and activity of the church with all powers geared toward accomplishing the task.”[3]  




            The Scriptures speak both of what may be called the universal Church of Christ made up of all believers throughout all time as well as local congregations of believers identifiable in different places. Please see appendix A (below), a treatment from Gene A. Getz containing the occurrences of the word “church” in the New Testament, each one classified as either referring to the universal church, a group of local churches, or one particular local church. The local NT church is an autonomous body of Christ and as such must strive to fulfill all the commands, teachings, and directives given to it under Christ and through the Scriptures. Stressing the identity of local congregations, Millard Erickson contributes to the discussion stating that:


We should note that the individual congregation, or group of believers in a specific place [i.e., local church], is never regarded as only a part or component of the whole church. The church is not a sum or composite of the individual local groups. Instead, the whole is found in each place.[4]




Acknowledging both aspects, universal and local, Erickson does define the church as the “whole body” of all those who have been reconciled to God through Jesus Christ, recognizing that it is “universal in nature” but that it “finds expression in local groupings of believer which display the same qualities as does the body of Christ as a whole.”[5]


Wayne Grudem likewise shows that the church is both universal and local. He concludes “the group of God’s people considered at any level from local to universal may rightly be called ‘a church.’[6] He goes on to distinguish the “marks” of the church, arguing that if a group does not have these distinguishing characteristics, then it is in effect not intending to function as a church. The two primary marks he discusses are: 1) the preaching of the Word of God, especially the true gospel of Jesus Christ; and, 2) the right administration of the Lord’s Supper and Baptism.[7] Grudem also defines three purposes of the church: 1) ministry to God in worship; 2) ministry to believers through nurture; and, 3) ministry to the world through evangelism (including missions) and mercy.[8] To the question of balance within and between these purposes, Grudem concludes:


All three purposes of the church are commanded by the Lord in Scripture; therefore all three are important and none can be neglected. . . We should beware of any attempts to reduce the purpose of the church to only one of these three and to say that it should be our primary focus.[9]




            Of particular driving force behind the theology that a local NT church should obey all the commands given to it in Scripture, and hence also the command to take the gospel to all the nations, is the Southern Baptist stance on local church autonomy. The Baptist Faith and Message states:


A New Testament church of the Lord Jesus Christ is an autonomous local congregation of baptized believers, associated by covenant in the faith and fellowship of the gospel; observing the two ordinances of Christ, governed by His laws, exercising the gifts, rights, and privileges invested in them by His Word, and seeking to extend the gospel to the ends of the earth. Each congregation operates under the Lordship of Christ through democratic processes. In such a congregation each member is responsible and accountable to Christ as Lord. Its scriptural officers are pastors and deacons. While both men and women are gifted for service in the church, the office of pastor is limited to men as qualified by Scripture.


The New Testament speaks also of the church as the Body of Christ which includes all of the redeemed of all the ages, believers from every tribe, and tongue, and people, and nation.


Matthew 16:15-19; 18:15-20; Acts 2:41-42,47; 5:11-14; 6:3-6; 13:1-3; 14:23,27; 15:1-30; 16:5; 20:28; Romans 1:7; 1 Corinthians 1:2; 3:16; 5:4-5; 7:17; 9:13-14; 12; Ephesians 1:22-23; 2:19-22; 3:8-11,21; 5:22- 32; Philippians 1:1; Colossians 1:18; 1 Timothy 2:9-14; 3:1-15; 4:14; Hebrews 11:39-40; 1 Peter 5:1-4; Revelation 2-3; 21:2-3.[10]




            Concerning evangelism and missions, The Baptist Faith and Message reads:


It is the duty and privilege of every follower of Christ and of every church of the Lord Jesus Christ to endeavor to make disciples of all nations. The new birth of man’s spirit by God’s Holy Spirit means the birth of love for others. Missionary effort on the part of all rests thus upon a spiritual necessity of the regenerate life, and is expressly and repeatedly commanded in the teachings of Christ. The Lord Jesus Christ has commanded the preaching of the gospel to all nations. It is the duty of every child of God to seek constantly to win the lost to Christ by verbal witness undergirded by a Christian lifestyle, and by other methods in harmony with the gospel of Christ.


Genesis 12:1-3; Exodus 19:5-6; Isaiah 6:1-8; Matthew 9:37-38; 10:5-15; 13:18-30, 37-43; 16:19; 22:9-10; 24:14; 28:18-20; Luke 10:1-18; 24:46-53; John 14:11-12; 15:7-8,16; 17:15; 20:21; Acts 1:8; 2; 8:26-40; 10:42-48; 13:2-3; Romans 10:13-15; Ephesians 3:1-11; 1 Thessalonians 1:8; 2 Timothy 4:5; Hebrews 2:1-3; 11:39-12:2; 1 Peter 2:4-10; Revelation 22:17.[11]


George Peters strongly concludes that:


A church that does not recognize the primacy of mission deprives herself of the most intimate relationship with her Lord, fails to identify herself with the primary purpose of God, robs her membership of the deepest experiences of the Holy Spirit, and denies the world the greatest blessing the Lord in grace has provided. She ceases to be truly Christian.[12]






“The Scripture, foreseeing that God would justify the Gentiles by faith, preached the gospel beforehand to Abraham, saying, “ALL THE NATIONS WILL BE BLESSED IN YOU.” (Galatians 3:8)




F.F. Bruce sees the argument in Galatians 3:8 as Paul’s concern “with the extension to the Gentiles of the righteousness by faith which is attested for Abraham.”[13] Hamilton comments on Paul’s use of Gen. 12:3 concluding:


Because ta ethne (the nations) are to be blessed in Abraham, Christ’s invitation to his disciples was to make disciples of panta ta ethne [all the nations] (Matth. 28:19). Thus a scriptural basis for the missionary outreach of the church is found in Gen. 12:3. (Emphasis mine.)[14]


            What should be made of this connection? John Piper states:


What we may conclude from the wording of Genesis 12:3 and its use in the New Testament is that God’s purpose for the world is that the blessing to Abraham, namely, the salvation achieved through Jesus Christ, the seed of Abraham, would reach to all the ethnic people groups of the world.[15]


            Though the Lord already possesses all the nations (Ps. 82:8; 83:18) in His sovereignty over all things, there are those nations that have yet to worship Him as they are commanded to (Ps. 2:7-12). It remains the call of His people then according to the commands of Scripture to proclaim God among all peoples so that they too may worship Him as He deserves. As John Piper states:


Missions is not the ultimate goal of the church. Worship is. Missions exists because worship doesn’t. Worship is ultimate, not missions, because God is ultimate, not man. When this age is over, and the countless redeemed fall on their faces before God, missions will be no more. It is a temporary necessity. But worship abides forever.[16]


            In the face of the eternal plan of God, His long-standing covenant to bless all the nations, His salvation of sinners in Jesus Christ, and the continued fulfillment of that plan through His people today, the driving motive at the center of the obedience to the commands must be an overwhelming sense of privilege. The church is not doing missions for God. The church is very truly joining God in His covenant in order to exalt His name above all names among all peoples. This is a highly privileged command from God Himself to join Him in His mission!


John Piper puts forth an extensive treatment of the terms used in Scripture for “nations,” “tribes,” “peoples,” “tongues,” “families,” and “clans.”[17] He concludes that because the NT use of “ethnos never refers to an individual but always to a people group,” this should incline missions ministry to be focused on reaching people groups, not just more individuals, unless the context of a passage would teach otherwise. [18]


These biblical teachings, particularly concerning God’s covenant implications and the defining of “nations” as people groups, cause missions to be focused on those who have not yet heard the gospel of Jesus Christ. John Piper puts it this way:


“God’s call for missions in Scripture cannot be defined in terms of crossing cultures to maximize the total number of individuals saved. Rather God’s will for missions is that every people group be reached with the testimony of Christ and that a people be called out for his name from all the nations.”[19] (Emphasis in original.)


            George Peters agrees:


“The main thrust of missions and of the majority of missionaries must remain a ministry to the unevangelized world, and evangelism and church planting must ever remain the burden and thrust of missions.”[20] And, “Ideally missions is the agency to introduce the gospel of Jesus Christ into new frontiers and to plant churches and nurture them to a degree of maturity so that they may function independently and assume the full role of the broad church assignment.”[21]


Referring to Jesus Christ the Scriptures say, “And there is salvation in no one else; for there is no other name under heaven that has been given among men by which we must be saved” (Acts 4:12). The Scriptures testify that those in this world who do not believe in Jesus Christ will face separation from God in eternity (see 2 Thess. 1:6-10). Salvation in Jesus Christ is man’s highest glory to the praise of God alone, and apart from faith in Jesus Christ there is no hope of salvation.






It is found out how the gospel will be made known to all the nations in the Great Commission. It comes from the Lord Jesus Christ Himself after His resurrection and before His ascension back in to heaven and it is Matthew’s resounding conclusion to at the very end of his gospel account (Matthew 28:18-20).


The entire text of Matthew’s gospel is a litany of OT prophecies and their proven fulfillment in the Christ[22]. The culmination of the inauguration of God’s kingdom in His Son Jesus Christ, after His glorious act of salvation by His death, burial, and resurrection, is the command for His followers to make disciples of all the nations. Therefore, missions to “all the nations” is a central aspect to Christ’s kingdom plan. Missions is not to be done on a basis of convenience, but as a primary principle of Christ’s kingdom. Scripture says:


“And Jesus came up and spoke to them, saying, ‘All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth. Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age’” (Matthew 28:18-20).[23]


            The command is found in the only imperative in the text, “make disciples.”[24] The going, baptizing, and teaching are the methods with which God’s people fulfill the command to make disciples of all the nations. The form of the command is second person, plural. That is the answer to the “how” of the gospel spreading to all the nations. Jesus commanded “all of you” (second person plural) to “make disciples” of “all the nations.”[25] Hence those commanded to carry out this task are a collective “all” of His followers, not just individuals. Jesus commanded his followers to accomplish this task in order to meet the biblical requirements of the presentation of God among all the nations. The command was so important that Jesus Himself promised to be with His followers “to the end of the age” (v. 20).


Specifically, the “all of you” includes the NT church. Commenting on the


Great Commission, John Piper states:




Therefore if the sustaining promise [v. 20, that Jesus would be with them] is expressed in terms that endure to the end of the age, we may rightly assume that the command to make disciples also endures to the end of the age. It was not given merely to the apostles. They received the commission as representatives of the church that endures to the end of the age. . . I conclude then that the Great Commission was given not just to the apostles but to the church that would endure to the end of the age.[26] (Emphasis added.)


Hagner, treating verse twenty, agrees likewise with Piper stating that the gospel of Matthew provided the church with the “handbook” containing the teaching which Jesus commands his followers to propagate.[27] It is “thus the particular responsibility of the church to hand on that teaching.”[28] Jesus’ promise in verse twenty, “thus applies not only to the future of the disciples themselves but to their successors and their successors’ successors in the church.”[29]


George W. Peters agrees that the church is the recipient of the Great Commission referring to the concept of apostolic succession. He writes:


The latter

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is more general and continues in the church as teachers, evangelists, and missionaries after the Twelve and Paul [apostleship as an office of authority and position] have passed from the scene. To speak of apostolic succession, therefore, is rather difficult. Yet there is a continuity of responsibility and ministry. This continuity we find in the church rather than any official of the church. We see the church in apostolic succession.[30] (Emphasis added.)




Peters treats apostolic succession to the church elsewhere, stating:




The church is built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ Himself being the chief cornerstone (Eph. 2:20). Thus if there is any ‘apostolic succession,’ the line of succession is as follows: from Father to the Son, from the Son to the apostles, and from the apostles to the church. This seems to be the divine order indicated by the passage. The church lives in the apostolic succession and not the individual minister.


Such and order is also in perfect harmony with the great and glorious truth that Christ is the head of the church and the church is the body of Christ.


We believe that we are not out of line with New Testament thinking if we state that the local congregation of believers stands in a unique relationship to Christ and that the local assembly becomes the authoritative sending agency of the New Testament missionary. This is a vital, Biblical principle and we dare not weaken or disregard it.[31] (Emphasis added.)




In the Great Commission, the command is given to the church long before missionary societies or agencies ever existed as such. Hence the primacy, authority, and responsibility of the command must rest and continue to rest in the church, even if the church uses an agency or society to help further the cause.


            A biblical example of this is the church in Antioch used of the Lord to send missionaries (Acts 13). F.F. Bruce provides the conclusion here when he summarizes it this way:


Luke tells how the leaders of [Syrian] Antioch were directed by the Holy Spirit – presumably through a prophetic utterance – to release Barnabas and Paul for this further ministry to which they had been called. The two men went down to the port of Seleucia and set sail for Cyprus with the blessing of the church and its leaders (Acts 13:1 ff.). The church regarded them as its representatives and commissioners; it was their home base, and to it in due course they returned to report “all that God had done with them” (Acts 14:27).[32]






            Something must also be noted about Paul’s primary missions motive which can be seen in his letter to the Romans.


And thus I aspired to preach the gospel, not where Christ was already named, so that I would not build on another man’s foundation; 21 but as it is written, “THEY WHO HAD NO NEWS OF HIM SHALL SEE, AND THEY WHO HAVE NOT HEARD SHALL UNDERSTAND.” (Rom. 15:20, quoting Is. 52:15)


            Paul’s quote of Isaiah must not be overlooked. He is quoting the fourth servant song in Isaiah. John Oswalt says about the Isaiah passage that:


Not only those who first saw the humiliation of the Servant would be startled and chagrined, but also the peoples of all the world, up to and including the mightiest of all. On this reading, the Gentiles will find the humiliation of the Deliverer shocking because they have never heard before that it is through the loss of all things that the Savior will conquer all things. . . The nations have not heard this amazing truth before, and Paul wants to be among those who tell them first. In the beginning they will be shocked at the depths to which the Savior falls ([Is.] 53:1-3), but in the end they will be overcome with gratitude that his sufferings were for them ([Is.] 53:4-6).[33]




            Douglas Moo notes that Paul’s use of “in this manner” (translated “thus” in the NASB) looks both backward and forward in effect rendering the teaching, “But in this way I am fulfilling the gospel (v. 19b): by striving to preach the gospel where Christ has not been named, lest I build on another person’s foundation.”[34] He states that “where Christ has not been named” is meant by Paul to be “places where there is no worship of Christ at all.”[35]


            Paul’s mission heart and work was far from individualistic. He desired to preach Christ to the nations that had not heard before (i.e., “unreached peoples”) and he fulfilled this calling under the direct guidance of Christ, the Holy Spirit, and through Christ’s body, the church. Even though one of Paul’s aims was to establish believing communities or churches that honored Christ (see generally the pastoral epistles), it must also be noted that he did so with the continued connection to his home church of Antioch.








            The church universal or local must never lose sight of the fact that the ultimate goal of missions from the human perspective is that every nation, tribe, people, and tongue will worship the Lord Jesus Christ in heaven as redeemed peoples. The culmination of all of world history after the final judgment will result in a most glorious scene before the One who is worthy of all praise and glory from all His creation.


And they sang a new song, saying, ” Worthy are You to take the book and to break its seals; for You were slain, and purchased for God with Your blood men from every tribe and tongue and people and nation. You have made them to be a kingdom and priests to our God; and they will reign upon the earth.” (Rev. 5:9-10.)




After these things I looked, and behold, a great multitude which no one could count, from every nation and all tribes and peoples and tongues, standing before the throne and before the Lamb, clothed in white robes, and palm branches were in their hands; and they cry out with a loud voice, saying, “Salvation to our God who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb.” (Rev. 7:9-10.)


            John Piper takes this truth to its missions conclusion and application when commenting on Rev. 5:9-10:


All peoples must be reached because God has appointed people to believe the gospel whom he has ransomed through the death of his Son. The design of the atonement prescribes the design of mission strategy. And the design of the atonement (Christ’s ransom verse [Rev. 5:]9) is universal in the sense that it extends to all peoples and definite in that it effectually ransoms some from each of those peoples. Therefore the missionary task is to gather the ransomed from all the peoples through preaching the gospel.[36] (Emphasis original.)






As has been seen, the church is God’s chosen instrument through which He wishes to be exalted in the world. Yet there are those who believe and teach that Paul’s missionary endeavors with his fellow workers constituted a separate structure, other than the church, by which God reached the nations of the world with the gospel.[37] Again, the point of emphasis is that a local church must fulfill its God-given responsibility and priority in the sending and supporting of God-called missionaries to the lost nations of the world.  


Due to contemporary practices and thinking, some discussion about the church as the sending authority is necessary at this point. The argument thus far is that the biblical imperatives are given to the church, not to individuals or agencies, though the church may operate through individuals and agencies. George Peters illustrates this, citing some weaknesses in missions after the Reformation:


“The misconception that missions was the responsibility of individuals rather than the obligation of the churches,” and writes, “This erroneous idea was advocated by Zwingli and his successors. Only gradually and in part has it been overcome in recent decades. Zwingli maintained that missions is the business of specially called apostles. The church as such has nothing to do with missions. This same idea carried over later into pietism and became dominant in much of western Protestantism. It still survives due to the inertness of many churches and their inability to organize effectively for missions, on the one hand, and a strong and vital individualism of some leaders, on the other hand. Thus individuals have felt called to follow in the steps of the apostles and pioneer for Christ in mission lands independently of the churches and church direction. As a result many churches as such have remained practically uninvolved in missions while individuals or small groups from within the churches have aggressively carried on foreign mission work. Such abnormalities became the regular experience and pattern in the large churches of the Continent and Great Britain.” [38]




The error comes when the church abrogates its missionary role, allowing individuals and agencies to replace its work.[39] The idea that an individual would surrender to the call to serve God in missions and leave a church to be sent by an agency without further contact, planning, or support from the church is foreign to the Scriptures. Rather, every local church, if it be blessed by God to have a missionary called out of it to serve, should own and support that missionary as its own representative all in the reality of its identity as the body of Christ. Peters writes:


“Thus, while the call of Christ comes directly to the individual and there is a sending forth by Christ Himself, a spiritual church will also sense the call either directly or indirectly and a humble and spiritually minded individual will gladly submit to the authoritative commissioning and sending forth by the local assembly as the representative body of Christ and sustain a responsible relationship to the sending agency. This, however involves the local congregation deeply in missions. The church, too, must become colaborers and companions of the work. The local church, too, must be able to say: ‘Lo, we are with you…’ The absolute need for identification of the local church with its missionaries is great while at the same time it is most rewarding.”[40]


George W. Peters helps to delineate the issue when he writes of the:


“unfortunate and abnormal historic development which has produced autonomous missionless churches on the one hand and autonomous churchless missionary societies on the other hand. While the latter claim to be ‘servants’ of the churches, they are autonomous, legislative, and administrative bodies, with their independent charters and thus at least able to operate independently.”[41]




Peters emphasizes the centrality of the local NT church’s authority, second only to Christ, when he writes:


We believe that we are not out of line with New Testament thinking if we state that the local congregation of believers stands in a unique relationship to Christ and that the local assembly becomes the mediating and authoritative sending body of the New Testament missionary. This is a vital, Biblical principle and we dare not weaken, minimize, nor disregard it.[42]


John Piper’s summary is very pertinent:


But that there is a distinct calling on the church to do frontier missionary work among all the remaining unreached people groups is crystal clear from the New Testament. . . . Should there not be in every church and denomination a group of people (a missions agency or board) who see their special and primary task not merely to win as many individuals to Christ as possible, but to win some individuals (i.e., plant a church) among all the unreached peoples of the earth?[43] (Emphasis mine.)


Regardless of the existence and success of any missionary society, nothing changes the fact that God has commanded His people, His church, to exalt Him among all the nations. There is no other institution in the Scriptures that Jesus promised to build other than His church (Matthew 16:18).




The goal of this study was to uphold the biblical mission command to the people of God in the local NT church, a command which it has often neglected. The Scriptures give God’s people the command to proclaim the excellencies of God, especially His gracious salvation in the cross and resurrection of Jesus Christ, to all the nations. If a church exists without coming to the realization that it must be personally involved in this proclamation, then it has failed to meet one of the most basic purposes given to it by her Lord in the Scriptures.


            It further stands that the goal is to proclaim Jesus Christ to “all the nations.” Necessarily this command focuses the church to especially make God known where He is not yet known. Though biblical missions and ministry should still be done in areas already reached with the gospel and God’s truth, it must be emphasized that it is the church’s responsibility, commanded by God, to proclaim Him among “all the nations.” This prioritizes the command to reach those nations that have not yet heard of God and His Son Jesus Christ. “Unreached people group” (UPG) missions is not just an option, and it is not to be done only by specialists. God commanded His church to do this very ministry. Unreached people group missions must be central to the identity of every NT church. Every NT church must proclaim Jesus Christ among all the nations, thus being obedient to His commands and living in the very mission of God Himself.


How then will they call on Him in whom they have not believed? How will they believe in Him whom they have not heard? And how will they hear without a preacher? How will they preach unless they are sent? (Romans 10:14-15a).




The Universal Church, Church Groups, and the Local Church[44]




Additional Quotes


Changing the Mind of Missions: Where Have We Gone Wrong?, by James F. Engel & William A. Dyrness, Downers Grove, Illinois: InterVarsity Press, 2000. 183 pages.


Treating the issue of the missions agencies and local churches, the authors conclude that, “Anything that creates or encourages dependence on outside initiatives abrogates this divine obligation [of churches growing to extend God’s kingdom]. There is no question that the local church is central to God’s program. God intended the church to be his message and not simply carry it” (p. 77, Changing Mind).




“The church was the mission; it did not simply have a mission” (p. 41, Changing Mind).


“Rather missions is the reason for which all other ministries exist” in the local church (p. 121, Changing Mind).




The authors treat the use of the missions agency while maintaining the criticism that the churches have become more of a pass-through rather than foundational element in sending missionaries. “This, of course, all but abrogates God’s conception of world missions as the reason for any church to exist” (p. 146, Changing Mind).


Salvation to the Ends of the Earth: A Biblical Theology of Mission, by Andreas J. Kostenberger & Peter T. O’Brien, in the series “New Studies in Biblical Theology,” D.A. Carson series editor, Downers Grove, Illinois: InterVarsity Press, 2001. 351 pages.




The summary of John’s scripture then includes the implications that: 1) the mission of the contemporary church is its need to see itself more consciously in relation to the mission of Jesus; 2) this teaching on mission (identifying the follower with the mission of the Christ himself) calls the church to greater humility in the conception of the task; 3) the church needs to acknowledge anew the sovereignty of God in its mission; 4) the mission of God in this world cannot be thwarted; and, 5) the church’s mission is not to be carried out as an individualistic enterprise (see pp. 224-26).


Anthropological Insights for Missionaries, by Paul G. Hiebert, Grand Rapids, Baker Book House, 1985. 315 pages.




“Missions is not first the responsibility of individuals,” he says, “it is the task of the church as a whole” (p. 19).




Of central importance is the fact that “the gospel calls all cultures to change” because “Jesus Christ’s life was a condemnation of our sinfulness, so the kingdom of God stands in judgment of all cultures” (p. 55).  








Overcoming the World Missions Crisis: Thinking Strategically to Reach the World, by Russell L. Penney general editor, Grand Rapids: Kregel Publications, 2001. 389 pages.




“The converts, out of whom God will raise leaders, must know right doctrine and be able to study Scripture for themselves. A philosophy of diffusion – that is, reaching as many people as possible but without the ‘teaching’ required to fulfill the Great Commission – spells disaster.” (p. 39)




The first chapter of the second part of the book addresses the mission of the church. It is argued (and rightly so) that the Great Commission was given to the Apostles who are seen as the foundational representative of the church. Hence, the “evangelization of the lost is a major responsibility of the church” (p. 64).  




The Great Commission is treated in expository fashion. Concerning teaching, it is noted that “the depth and content of Paul’s teaching to new converts . . . is the pattern we must follow” (p. 68).




Chapter nine is a challenge for missionaries to be theologically trained. “As the first missionaries sent to ‘the field,’ Paul and Barnabas – not the least equipped theologically or having the minimum thirty-two credit hours of theological training – were gifted teachers, trained in God’s Word” (p. 174). So it is argued that God’s Spirit chose them from “the most equipped of those in the church at Antioch” (p. 174, emphasis original).




Chapter thirteen treats the responsibility of the local church. The development of mission agencies, through no necessary fault of their own, “has made many local churches in the United States delegate their own responsibilities for carrying out the Great Commission” (p. 258). The writer quotes John Bennett’s statement that of the 300,000 churches in America, only 10 percent have a missions program (see p. 258). “Any local churches whose hearts do not beat for missions (both home and foreign) . . . have strayed from the goals of their Head, and they must rethink and readjust their ministry focus” (p. 258).






A People for His Name: A Church-Based Missions Strategy, by Paul A. Beals, Pasadena, William Carey Library, 1995 revised edition. 259 pages.




In respecting cultures while upholding Scripture, it is affirmed that the message of the gospel is absolute, that we must reach people where they are religiously, that we must identify with people in order to gain a hearing, that the gospel messenger is the agent of cultural change, and that local churches in turn become centers of gospel witness. “A church-oriented strategy of missions is biblical” (p. 35).




Both the cultural and redemptive mandate of God’s mission are upheld, yet with priority given to the redemptive mandate. “Meeting societal needs should contribute to carrying out our commission” (p. 59). “Christ’s mandate to the church is crystal clear; it is not to be decided on by congregation vote (Matt. 28:19-20; Mark 16:15; Luke 24:44-49; John 20:21; Acts 1:8)” (p. 58).


Foundationally, the church must recognize that it is the sending authority through which God will reach the world (chapter seven). The church in Antioch (Acts 13) and the church in Thessalonica (1 Thess. 1:7) are held as examples of the biblical role. Theological schools and mission agencies, “were nonexistent in the first century” (p. 79).




“Missions agencies carry out their work under the authority delegated to them by the sending churches” (p. 137).


God’s Missionary People: Rethinking the Purpose of the Local Church, by Charles Van Engen, Grand Rapids: Baker Book House, 1991. 223 pages.


“The church of Jesus Christ may find its fullest expression in relation to the world from within the Kingdom of God only if it lives out its nature as a missionary people” (p. 27).


“We cannot understand mission without viewing the nature of the church, and we cannot understand the Church without looking at its mission” (p. 30).




Referring to David Moberg’s claim that because of the church’s essential identity that they are agents of mission in their environment, the author states, “Only later would some realize the seriousness of the error of bypassing, ignoring, or forgetting the local congregation as the basic agent of the Church’s mission in the world” (p. 31).


The author draws upon Johannes Blauw’s words here, quoting him (p. 79, emphasis in original): The Missionary Nature of the Church: A Survey of the Biblical Theology of Missions (New York: McGraw-Hill, 1962), 121-122.


“There is no other Church than the Church sent into the world, and there is no other mission than that of the Church of Christ . . . If one wants to maintain a specific theological meaning of the term mission as “foreign mission,” its significance is, in my opinion, that it keeps calling the Church to think over its essential nature as a community sent forth into the world. Seen in that light missionary work is not just one of it activities, but the criterion for all its activities . . . . It is exactly by going outside itself that the Church is itself and comes to itself.”




           On the issue of Jesus’ lordship, the missional element is made abundantly clear in the statement that:


The Church recognized that the reconciling, redeeming, and renewing kingdom of this Lord is a universal kingdom which includes all nations. “Jesus is Lord” means “Jesus is Lord of the world.” The Church cannot escape the fact that to confess Jesus as Lord moves it profoundly toward its own universality – a movement outward to the nations (p. 93).




The Church of Jesus Christ exists when people confess with their mouth and believe in their heart that Jesus is Lord – Lord of the Church, of all people, and of all creation (cf. Col. 1:15-20). Through this confession the Church emerges to become what it is, the missionary fellowship of the Lord Jesus Christ (p. 93).


Thus the mission of Jesus becomes inescapable and utterly binding for all of his disciples. They cannot confess Jesus is Lord without at the same time proclaiming his lordship over all people (p. 94).




At the level of the local congregation the missionary Church discovers its reason for being in the world as it becomes the loving koinonia fellowship of disciples of the crucified Jesus, confessing in word and deed that Jesus is Lord [and resurrected], and witnessing to the greatest event of all time – God with us. Is this the reason for which your congregation, mission church, or denomination exists in the world today? (p. 99).




“As the missionary people of God, local congregations are branch offices of the kingdom, the principal instrument, anticipatory sign, and primary locus of the coming of the kingdom” (p. 101).




“Anyone who downplays the importance of the local congregation in relation to mission,” he says further, “must carefully consider its unique identity and purpose in the world as a covenant community of the King” (p. 104, emphasis in original).  


“The Church, therefore, must be understood to be the missionary community of


the disciples of the King” (p. 108). He goes on:


“These developments have far-reaching consequences for the way we view missionary congregations. Missionary congregations need constant reminders that their identity and calling do not derive from denominational affiliation, nor from institutional structures. They exist because they are the covenant community of the King, called to be God’s instruments for blessing the nations” (p. 108).


Each aspect of the congregational life must be evaluated. Does it keep people in the “saltshaker” as an introverted, ingrown, self-centered fellowship, negating the very reason for the existence of the fellowship? Or does it equip people and disperse the fellowship to maintain its uniqueness? (pp. 134-35).




The purpose of the church leaders is to equip, organize, assist, and serve the bearers and executors of the Spirit’s gifts. This is in contrast to the dictatorship propensity that may want to control, determine, or assign such gifts. “Management-by-objective and organizational-development techniques are called into question here, because they do not belong to the essence of the Church as the body of Christ” (p. 154).




“In missionary churches the effectiveness of the leaders is not measured by what they do or do not accomplish, but by how the people of God are equipped, enabled, organized, and inspired to participate in God’s mission in the world” (p. 176).




[1] All Scripture quotes taken from the NEW AMERICAN STANDARD BIBLE ®, copyright © 1960, 1962, 1963, 1968, 1971, 1972, 1973, 1975, 1977, 1995 by the Lockman Foundation. Used by permission.

[2] George W. Peters, “The Missionary Society As the Sending Agency,” Bibliotheca Sacra 125, no. 498, (April 1968): 121.

[3] George W. Peters, “The Primacy of Missions,” Bibliotheca Sacra 119, no 476, (October 1962): 338.

[4] Millard J. Erickson, Christian Theology, (Grand Rapids, Michigan: Baker Book House, 1985), 1033.

[5] Id., 1034.

[6] Wayne Grudem, Systematic Theology: An Introduction to Biblical Doctrine, (Grand Rapids, Michigan: Zondervan Publishing House, 1994), 857.

[7] Id., 864-866.

[8] Id., 867-868.

[9] Id., 868.

[10] The Baptist Faith and Message, Article VI. The Church, (Nashville, Tennessee: LifeWay Christian Resourcees, 2002), 13.

[11] Id., Article XI. Evangelism and Missions, 16.

[12] George W Peters, “The Primacy of Missions,” Bibliotheca Sacra 119, no. 476, (October 1962): 339.

[13] F.F. Bruce, The Epistle to the Galatians, The New International Greek Testament Commentary, (Grand Rapids, Michigan: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 1982), 156.

[14] Victor P Hamilton, The Book of Genesis: Chapters 1-17, The New International Commentary on the Old Testament, R.K. Harrison and Robert L. Hubbard, Jr., General Editors, (Grand Rapids, Michigan: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 1990), 387.

[15] John Piper, Let the Nations Be Glad: The Supremacy of God in Missions, (Grand Rapids, Michigan: Baker Books, 1993), 183.

[16] John Piper, Let the Nations Be Glad: The Supremacy of God in Missions, (Grand Rapids, Michigan: Baker Books, 1993), 11.

[17] See John Piper, Let the Nations Be Glad: The Supremacy of God in Missions, (Grand Rapids, Michigan: Baker Books, 1993), 172-212.

[18] Id., 177.

[19] John Piper, Let the Nations Be Glad: The Supremacy of God in Missions, (Grand Rapids, Michigan, Baker Books, 1993), p. 170.

[20] George W. Peters, “Mission-Church Relationship: Part II,” Bibliotheca Sacra 125, no 500, (October, 1968): 302.

[21] George W. Peters, “Perspectives on the Church’s Mission: Part III: Missions in Cultural Perspective,” Bibliotheca Sacra 136, no 543, (July, 1979): 205.

[22] “Christ” in Greek is the equivalent of “Messiah” in Hebrew, meaning “anointed,” and is used as a technical term for the prophesied king who was to come to sit on David’s eternal throne in fulfillment of 2 Samuel 7.

[23] The parallel to Matthew’s account of the Great Commission is in Mark16:15, also a plural imperative, “And He said to them, ‘Go into all the world and preach the gospel to all creation.’” Again, this is second person, plural, so the command is to “all of you.” The parallel in Luke 24:45-47 may not technically contain an imperative, but it does reveal to us that the plan of the Scriptures all along leads up to this proclamation of the Christ’s name and call for repentance to all the nations. “Then He opened their minds to understand the Scriptures, and He said to them, ‘Thus it is written, that the Christ would suffer and rise again from the dead the third day, and that repentance for forgiveness of sins would be proclaimed in His name to all the nations, beginning from Jerusalem.’”

[24] “Make disciples” is the only imperative, hence the only command, in the Great Commission and that the participles surrounding it (“go,” “baptizing,” and “teaching” are all participles in the Greek) are supportive of the main command.

[25]“All the nations” is panta ta ethne.

[26] John Piper, Let the Nations Be Glad: The Supremacy of God in Missions, (Grand Rapids, Michigan, Baker Books, 1993), 173-174.

[27] Hagner, 888.

[28] Id.

[29] Id., 889.

[30] George W. Peters, “The Church in Missions,” Bibliotheca Sacra 125, no. 497, (January 1968): 51. Peters deduces apostolic succession to the church (not individuals) from five facts: 1) Paul informs us that the church is built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ Himself being the chief cornerstone (Eph. 2:20); 2) Apostolic succession falling to the church is in perfect harmony with the great and glorious truth that Christ is the head of the church and the church is the body of Christ; 3) In the Great Commission, the method of making disciples is to baptize and teach them and it is the church, which is the pillar and ground of the truth, that has the responsibility to baptize and teach; 4) Several of the “general apostles” mentioned in the Scriptures are spoken of as apostles of the churches (Phil. 2:25; 2 Cor. 8:23); and 5) It is symbolized by the rite of laying on of hands by the church upon the missionary, by which the church identifies with the missionary, and the missionary with the church, publicly authenticating the call of God.

[31] George W. Peters, “Let the Missionary Be a Missionary,” Bibliotheca Sacra 122, no. 488, (October 1965): 349.

[32] F.F. Bruce, Paul: Apostle of the Heart Set Free, (Grand Rapids, Michigan: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Co, 1977, reprinted 1996), 160.

[33] John N. Oswalt, The Book of Isaiah: Chapters 40-66, The New International Commentary on the Old Testament, R.K. Harrison and Robert L. Hubbard, Jr., General Editors, (Grand Rapids, Michigan: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 1998), 380-81.

[34] Douglas Moo, The Epistle to the Romans, The New International Commentary on the New Testament, Ned B. Stonehouse & F.F. Bruce & Gordon D. Fee, General Editors, (Grand Rapids, Michigan: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 1996), 896.

[35] Id.

[36] John Piper, Let the Nations Be Glad: The Supremacy of God in Missions, (Grand Rapids, Michigan, Baker Books, 1993), p. 197.

[37] See Ralph Winter, “The Two Structures of God’s Redemptive Mission,” in Ralph Winter and Steven Hawthorne, eds., Perspectives on the World Christian Movement, (Pasadena: William Carey Library, 1999), 220-230. Winter argues in this article that two distinct structures of equal creation and importance in Scripture (a point this author does not think Winter biblically achieves) exist: the church and the mission society. His conclusion is a call for the church to accept both structures and for Christian missions to be done in such a way so as to establish not only churches in other nations, but also missions societies. He refers to the two structures as sodality (societies apart from the church) and modality (the church). He states that, “we must accept both structures. . . as part of ‘God’s People, the Church’; and . . . non-western churches must form and utilize missions societies if they are to exercise their missionary responsibility.” Hence it seems that he is concluding that the people of God are not fulfilling their responsibility if they do not see missionary societies as on equal standing as a local church.

[38] See George W. Peters, “The Church in Missions,” Bibliotheca Sacra 125, no. 497, (January 1968): 47.

[39] See Dr. George W. Peters, “The Missionary Society As the Sending Agency,” Bibliotheca Sacra, vol. 125 #498, Apr. 1968, p. 118. “The church thus finds itself within Biblical tradition if it delegates the sending forth and the direction of missionaries to missionary societies with which she is in doctrinal agreement, united in purpose and one in assignment. This delegation, however, does not relieve the church of the responsibility to care for the missionary. The missionary remains the representative of the church first and foremost, only secondarily that of the society.”


[40] See George W. Peters, “Let the Missionary Be a Missionary,” Bibliotheca Sacra 122, no 488, (October 1965): 351.

[41] George W. Peters, “The Church in Missions,” Bibliotheca Sacra 125, no 497, (January 1968): 45.

[42] Id., 50-51.

[43] John Piper, Let the Nations Be Glad: The Supremacy of God in Missions, (Grand Rapids, Michigan, Baker Books, 1993), 212-213.

[44] From Gene A. Getz, The Measure of a Church rev. ed. (Ventura, California: Regal, 1995), 245-48.



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