Rather than reading the Bible through the eyes of modern secularism, this provocative six-part course teaches you to read the Bible through its own eyes—as a record of God’s dealing with the human race. When you read it at this level, you will discover reasons to worship God in areas of life you probably never before associated with “religion.”
© Charles A. Clough 1999
Charles A. Clough
Biblical Framework Series 1995–2003
Part 5: Confrontation with the King
Chapter 3: The Life of the King
Lesson 125 – The God Man: The Impeccability of Christ (The Doctrine of Kenosis Revisited)
03 Jun 1999
Fellowship Chapel, Jarrettsville, MD
Let’s begin by turning to Matthew 12:34. I want to begin looking at some of the problematic passages we’ve discussed in connection with the impeccability of Christ. Just to review, we’ve looked at the birth of the King and in connection with that we’ve talked about the hypostatic union doctrine. Remember that the birth of the King introduces into history the God-man. Because He is the God-man, because He is true humanity, undiminished deity, in one person, that sets up everything else that we study in connection with Jesus Christ.
We’ve studied His kenosis in connection with His life. We said that the kenosis is His emptying. What was His emptying? His emptying was submission to the will of God including the independent use of His attributes. So God the Son, when He became incarnate, could have exercised, could have exercised His omnipotence on different occasions. For example, when Satan tempted the Lord Jesus Christ, turn those stones into bread, He could have done that. But He refrained from doing that because it wasn’t His Father’s will, and He accepted that role. So kenosis reveals the attribute of humility, and it shows that in the Christian worldview the key or cardinal virtue is the virtue of humility toward God, a submission to His will. Everything else rolls from there; that has to be in place. The process of moving from pride to arrogance to humility is repentance. That’s a definition of repentance. So Jesus Christ always and forever demonstrated this attribute in everything He did.
Having studied the doctrine of kenosis we moved on to a second doctrine, the doctrine of impeccability, i.e., Christ’s perfection, impeccable, nothing to be accused of. We started this section by saying, on page 62, we gave a series of Bible references, which we’re going to look at in the introduction tonight, of those times and places where the Lord Jesus Christ seemed to show behavior that would be criticized today. In Matthew 12:34 we read, after He got through the Sermon on the Mount saying you shouldn’t call people fools, He says “You brood of vipers, how can you, being evil, speak what is good? For the mouth speaks out of that which fills the heart.” That’s a pretty tough saying. How’d you like somebody to say that to you? “You snakes,” and a snake is a metaphor for you know what, so this is what He’s basically calling people in the street when He’s confronting them.
We show these passages to show that it’s not quite so easy to talk about the Christ’s life when you’re confronted with passages like this, because people tend, we all tend to do this, we talk about Christ and we have this gooey image of who He was and how He acted. We need to correct that with the text of Scripture, because He wasn’t just all a pile of goo. He had confrontational aspects in His personality. We can go further, one of the most interesting ones is a passage in Matthew 15:7, He calls the people He is addressing “You hypocrites,” He’s judging them pardon the expression. He is evaluating their character, He’s not slandering them, He’s telling them what they are; they are hypocrites. So it’s a very truthful expression, “You hypocrites, rightly did Isaiah prophesy of you, saying,” and He applies the Scripture to them. It’s true. But if you go down further in Matthew 15.
Verse 22, “And behold, a Canaanite woman came out from that region, and began to cry out, saying” her daughter was demon possessed. In verse 23, because she’s a Gentile you see the reaction of His Jewish followers. “But He did not answer her a word. And His disciples came to Him and kept asking Him,” they asked Him over and over, apparently she was a very persistent woman, kept saying it over and over, so the disciples said let’s get her out of here, “for she is shouting out after us.” Tell this lady to go get lost, forget it. And it wasn’t once or twice, apparently it was repetitive because in the Greek it’s the imperfect tense which is a continual process; this went on for some time.
 “But He answered and said, ‘I was only sent to the lost sheep of the house of Israel.’ ” That’s a true expression, because remember that the Messiah’s role in history was to confront the people of God who had been called out from among the Gentiles for a special purpose, to bring in the Kingdom of God. This is the purpose of Israel. That was the counterculture that came out of the Noahic civilization centuries before. They were to get ready for this next act; the next act was the coming of the God-man, Messiah. The God-man Messiah was to approach the nation and offer them the Kingdom of God, which He did over and over again in the Gospels. But the nation rejected and then history took on a new phase; not new to God but certainly new from the perspective of man, because what do you do with a problematical situation of the Messiah being rejected.
The New Testament opens up sort of a can of worms here because the smooth continuous progress in history seems to be broken at this point because the nation rejects the Messiah. Now what happens? Satan thought he had it aced because he thought he had stopped the plan of God. He thought at last, he had tried over and over and over, to thwart and destroy the Jew because Genesis 12:1-3 promises that whoever curses Israel will be cursed. Satan had tried genocide, and on a small micro scale it was a genocidal that he tried when he killed all the babies around Bethlehem, to try to make sure that the Messiah was cut off. So the whole thrust of this history approaches this moment, and then he thinks he has it made because the nation does reject, they do respond to His inclinations, Judas Iscariot is there as his agent, Judas conducts an act of treason and successfully gets it maneuvered around so Christ gets killed, or apparently killed. Actually Jesus Christ gave up His life, it wasn’t taken from Him. It was a unique death. The death of Christ on the cross was not the same as we would die on the cross. But it appeared that way.
So what happened was that God, being the master chess player, moves a piece, Satan jumps the piece, thinking he’s got clearance, and he rolls into a trap and out of this so-called catastrophe comes the salvation of the world, because accomplished with the aid of Satan is the complete payment for the sins of the world through the cross of Christ. It’s an amazing situation that was set up, Satan being a participant in it, yet he meant it for evil but God meant it for good.
At this point in the Gospels, this is Matt. 15 so the rejection of the nation hasn’t come yet in its fullness. So in verse 24 Jesus correctly responds to this woman, “I was sent only to the lost sheep of the house of Israel.” Jesus was not sent to the world; that came after the resurrection, after the cross but at this point it’s only to the Jew.  “But she came and began to bow down before Him, saying, ‘Lord, help me!’  And He answered and said, ‘It is not good to take the children’s bread and throw it to the dogs.’ ” How’s that for a nice Christ-like statement? These are in the Gospels and when you read the Bible you have to project yourself in your imagination, your mind’s eye, back to seeing this situation happen on the street; you’ve got to see that.
Many people aren’t prepared to see this side of Jesus, because they don’t read carefully the text of Scripture and the portrait the Holy Spirit is painting here of the Savior. Of course He’s doing it to bring things out of her. This could be a whole sermon in itself because this is how He works with us often times. When you pray to Him, you don’t seem to get an answer and you wonder and you seem to get the cold shoulder, what turns out afterwards is that that was a little maneuver on His part to get you to do something. This is one of those neat little give and take situations that’s going on here. So he says to her, apparently impolitely and rudely,  “And He answered and said, ‘It is not good to take the children’s bread,” that is the Jews, the bread of the Jews is salvation, it’s the Messiah, so it’s not good to take the spiritual blessings of the Jews “and throw it to the dogs.’” That is, give it to the Gentiles. Very Jewish… very Jewish here in these Gospels! This is a Jewishness of Jesus. Remember the Gospels were written after the epistles. So this shows you that from start to finish the Lord Jesus Christ was the Jew of the Jews. The Church has lost something when it loses that Judaic background.
 “But she said,” a very quick-witted woman, not to be outwitted, she replies to Him, “Yes, Lord; but even the dogs feed on the crumbs which fall from their master’s table.” This woman had her theology, she recognized, somehow the Holy Spirit had worked in her heart so she recognized something about Jesus, because notice the position she takes in that phrase, “but even the dogs feed on the crumbs which fall from their master’s table.” This isn’t a case of the master bending down and saying let’s give a treat to the little puppy. That’s not the picture. The picture she has is that the people aren’t even paying attention to the dogs, they’re just eating on the table, and somebody moves the tablecloth or something and some crumbs fall off, and the dog comes in and licks them up. In other words, she recognizes that there’s a blessing to be had almost as a peripheral incidental to the plan of God for Israel. Of course, Paul develops this theme in Romans 11 that we are the branch that’s been grafted in, but we’re not the natural branch, we’re the grafted in branch, respecting this Jewish tradition. You can’t escape from it reading the Bible.
So here she submits, she says okay, I’m a dog, but even a dog can eat the crumbs from the master’s table. Now look at the response; look at this response on the Lord’s part, because He knew this was going to happen, He was just trying to bring this out of her, like He does works with us.  “Then Jesus answered and said to her, ‘O woman, your faith is great; be it done for you as you wish.’ And her daughter was healed at once.” So He recognizes that in the statement of verse 27 that she had perceived who He was, she’d linked Him with salvation to the world, she realized that salvation to the world comes through the Jewish nation, she respected that, she didn’t challenge it, she didn’t put her Gentile-ness over against Jewish-ness and say well, I believe in equal rights. There’s none of that snotty kind of stuff, the chip-on-the-shoulder approach, well you owe me one. No, He didn’t owe her or anybody one. She submits completely to the Lord’s prerogative. If that’s the way God’s designed the plan of salvation I salute and say “Yes Sir”, and I go with it. I don’t start dictating to God how He’s going to save me, or what the right way to go about salvation is. I submit to it because I know and I recognize the Creator/creature distinction. All that’s wrapped up in that wonderful verse 27. She had her theology together.
The point we’re seeing is that the Lord Jesus Christ could be very abrupt, several times. Turn to Matthew 12:46, another situation to look at. I do this so we don’t get some false impression of Jesus’ personality. Now it’s His own family—watch this one. “While He was still speaking to the multitudes, behold His mother and His brothers were standing outside, seeking to speak to Him.” Now with all due respect to the Roman Catholic Church, the Lord Jesus Christ did have sisters and brothers, these are not the disciples. The disciples are with Him already and these are His physical brothers, Mary did have other children; these are His physical brothers coming to see Him.  “And someone said to Him, ‘Behold, Your mother and Your brothers are standing outside seeking to speak to You.  But He answered to the one who was telling Him,” presumably one of the apostles, “and said, ‘Who is My mother and who are My brothers?’  And stretching out His hand toward His disciples, He said, ‘Behold, My mother and My brothers!  For whoever shall do the will of My Father who is in heaven, He is My brother and sister and mother.”
One of the interesting facts of history, when He said these statements, probably the only believer in His family was His mother. His sisters and His brothers, presumably in the Gospels from notes on their behavior, none of them believed in Him. That’s actually a good source of encouragement, because you may come in a family where you’ve been faithful to witness for the Lord, and live the Christian life, and yet nothing happens. The family just goes on its merry way to hell, literally. You begin to get a sense, and often Satan will do this to you, throw you the curve ball, it’s your fault, you’re not living the life right, and it’s your fault that they don’t become Christians, you screwed up. If that’s so, how do you explain this one? The Lord Jesus Christ screwed up maybe, didn’t live the Christ-like life in front of His brothers and sisters, that’s why they didn’t believe. That can’t be. See how silly that reasoning is. This refutes that kind of reasoning. They didn’t become Christians, the ones who did, until after the resurrection, presumably. We don’t have detailed notes but there’s not any evidence of it in the Gospels other than His mother, Mary. He tends to be kind of surprisingly non-Jewish in the way He handles His own family.
There are these startling things about the way He acted and things He said that bothered people, including who wrote the New Testament, because they’re recording these events. Somewhere the Holy Spirit laid it on Matthew’s heart (Matthew is writing) oh yeah, I remember that, I’m going to write about this, I was there when that happened and I want the readers of my gospel to see what I observed of the Lord Jesus Christ, and here’s one of the things that happened one day, I’m going to tell you about it. So he puts it in the Gospel, and under the power of the Holy Spirit that’s in the Gospel to show us the portrait of Christ.
This all has to do with this question of the impeccability of Christ, His perfection, His moral perfection. The Lord Jesus Christ had to, as a human being, be sanctified. Look at this from the standpoint of what we’ve learned so far in the hypostatic union. In the hypostatic union Jesus Christ is God; Jesus Christ is man. As God, He doesn’t need more holiness; as God He is complete in every way. We go through the attributes of God; God is sovereign, God is love, God is holy, God is omniscient, God’s holiness doesn’t have to be added to, purified or perfected. God is unchanging; He is the same yesterday, today and forever, another divine attribute. Since God is immutable and holy, His holiness doesn’t need to change. There’s no growth process in God.
But as Jesus Christ was a man who grew physically, He also grew in righteousness; we’ll call it God’s absolute righteousness. +R, that’s God’s righteousness. He grew in that. How did He grow in that? He grew in that by at various points in His life He obeyed. Here was an issue, He obeyed. Here was another thing, He obeyed. Here was a trial, He trusted the Lord. Here was something, He trusted the Lord. Here He obeyed God’s will, so forth and so on. This went on and on and on and on. He spent time with the Lord. In Isaiah 50 the Lord Jesus Christ was awakened in the morning, says Isaiah. The Father would call to Him, and teach Him in the morning, every morning, morning by morning He would do this. So He was always looking at Scripture, He was always discerning in His humanity the Father’s will. He knew the Bible like no one has ever learned the Scriptures, a tremendous student of the Word of God. So He’s growing in righteousness.
The point is that Jesus had to be sanctified, and there are passages in the Scripture that prove that. In the book of Hebrews you can see several passages that speak of that process. What we want to do is carefully remember, back when we studied the Old Testament we went through the doctrine of sanctification, and we said there’s the position, the Abrahamic Covenant promises, that’s not going to change, that’s our position under God where we stand. Jesus had a position under God in God’s plan. But Jesus Christ also had experience such as the Sinaitic Covenant, we studied the Sinaitic Covenant and Israel was given things to do, to respond to. Jesus was given things to do and respond to. In fact He knew the Sinaitic Law and He had to apply that in His life perfectly.
We said the aim of sanctification is to develop loyalty to God, and that’s true of the Lord Jesus Christ, He had to develop loyalty to God. He didn’t come with it all there; He built it with His faith and His obedience. He [can’t understand word] law and grace; grace is somewhat problematical to use that word in Jesus Christ’s case because He really didn’t need grace as we define grace here, grace is God’s initiative toward sinners, because He wasn’t a sinner. He had long term growth. He also had the enemies of sanctification, so all that was true of the Lord Jesus as it is true of us and it is precisely that analogy, because He is a man that means that the Lord Jesus Christ can correctly be called the role model. He gives us a model of what righteousness looks like for a person. Where His sanctification and our sanctification are different concerns the issue of sin.
Remember when we studied David’s life, conviction of sin, we have to be convinced of a specific offense toward God, then confess the sin, a repentance, turning from autonomy to submission to the cross as the sole point of contact with God, and restoration, eternal forgiveness of God through the cross. Jesus never did that, Jesus never confessed sin; Jesus never had to confess sin. So that part, that subset of sanctification He never dealt with. He never had to. But the rest of the sanctification He did and Jesus Christ, in His humanity, was sanctified.
On page 63 of the notes we define the doctrine of impeccability, and we said theologians have done it two ways, primarily because of the vocabulary. [In the Q&A someone said] a way to visualize this is that Jesus Christ was not able to sin in the sense of a Father who loved a child was not able to hurt the child; that gets more of the substance and the meaning of what’s going on here. But theologians classically have used these Latin phrases, so that’s why I use the Latin phrases. One of them is non posse peccare, not able to sin, and the other one is posse non peccare, able not to sin. Not able to sin means something different from able not to sin. Able not to sin means that the Lord Jesus Christ, if He’s that, He is like Adam, He is able not to sin, and there’s a possibility that He would sin. So we come to this situation, fork in the road, where we can go plus or minus. Being able not to sin means He can go this route, this positive route, He is able to go on that route. But not able to sin is stronger in that it says that it will never go the negative root.
The problem is, is He is not able to go the negative root, has there been a temptation? That’s what theologians have struggled to say. This is why on page 64 we said that if you think of it in terms of human responsibility and divine sovereignty it helps, because the first thing, able not to sin, is clearly and undeniably a human situation, able not to sin. Not able to sin has as its meaning the fact that in the plan of God it was certain by God’s sovereign setup that the Lord Jesus Christ would never sin. That’s His sovereignty. What happens is if you combine God’s sovereignty and human volition in the same person? You’ve got them united in one person. So as God, Jesus Christ is not able to sin; as man He is able not to sin; because they’re in one person, however, both statements have to apply. That’s where the theologians make that point about not able to sin. It’s not quite saying what it sounds like it’s saying.
That’s why on page on page 64, where I’ve underlined first and second statements, “in the first statement, ‘not able to sin’ refers to the uncreated …” uncreated, remember Creator/creature distinction, always think of Creator/creature distinction. “Not able to sin” refers to the uncreated divine nature. The verb “able”—watch it now, the verb “able” here takes on meaning from divine sovereignty. The second statement, “able not to sin,” refers to created human nature. In this statement the verb “able” takes on meaning from human experience. Because of the hypostatic union, both must apply to Jesus Christ. The verb “able”, therefore, has different meanings in the two statements. No logical contradiction exists. This is what happens in a lot of discussions and it’s going to happen, we’re going to be wound up around an axle in the death of Christ. For whom did Christ die? People like to make a big issue out of this. I’ve often sensed that we’re talking by one another when we talk this way. I’ve always gotten that feeling and it comes about because of meanings that we’re carrying into these words. You’ve got to be careful about that.
What happens, if you look at that sentence, the verb “to be able”… and this is a good illustration of pagan logic versus biblical logic or Aristotelian logic, people say what do you mean by two different logics? Here’s an example of what we’re talking about. If you think of this verb as having a fixed meaning, ability, and you’re going to apply it to the dog, to the cat, to a person and to God, and you say that the verb “able” carries the same meaning when I use it for the cat, the dog, my sister, my brother and God, you’re wrong. That verb does not carry the same meaning because you’re using it as a universal and underneath the universal both God, man, cats and dogs exist. Now do you see what happens? Continuity of Being. You’ve slipped into paganism unintentionally. We’ve talked about that. That might have seemed abstract to you before; we kept saying Continuity of Being. Here’s an example, right here. We’ve got this abstract verb, “able,” and we think it has this impregnable, stable meaning wherever it’s used and in whatever context it’s used. Then we proceed to jam it on the cat, we jam it on a person, and we jam it on God. Then we say, ooh, we’ve got a contradiction here. We wound up with a contradiction, how can Jesus be “able” and “not able?” See, the Bible has contradictions in it.
What’s the answer to this? The answer is that the verb “able” takes on its color depending which side of the Creator/creature distinction you’re talking about. The Creator/creature distinction is primary and this verb has to submit to that distinction, the Creator/creature distinction precedes universal meanings of words. It submits to them. So when I use the word “able” for God I do not mean the same thing when “able” is referring to men.
Let’s see a verse in the Old Testament that points this out because it’s going to come up again and again and again, we might as well clarify the air. Turn to Isaiah 40, that’s a critical Old Testament chapter that deals with the Creator/creature distinction. In Isaiah 40:25, this is the warning against the pagan use of logic, where we invent universal meanings of words and we apply them across the board as though it always means the same thing in different context. And it’s not true. Isaiah 40:25 blows it out of the water. “To whom then will you liken Me that I should be his equal?” That’s the challenge God offers us. He says if you think that I am like something in the identical way, that I possess qualities that are identical to the creature, you’re mistaken. If that were true, you could make idols, and He doesn’t permit us to make idols. The second commandment, which we don’t normally talk about, what is the second commandment? Making an image of God, and it’s forbidden. God is the Creator and everything else is created, and words do not mean and cannot be applied the same way. There are similarities. If there were no similarities then we would know nothing about what God is like. His sovereignty is like our act of choosing, that’s true, it’s like it, but it’s not the same thing. Think about it for a moment.
We walk along with our chooser, and we walk in the midst of circumstances, we walk in the midst of a body that runs by biological mechanisms. We breathe air that’s full of molecular physics. We come into an environment and within that environment we choose, but do we have total control over the environment like God in His sovereignty does. Surely not! So therefore isn’t it true that choice means different when God chooses and when man chooses. Can you take that word “choose” and say that that word means the same thing when God chooses and when man chooses. No you can’t, not if you have any respect of Scripture.
The problem we’re getting into here is we have to be very careful in how we use words when we cross over from God to man, man to God, God to man, man to God. Every time you do that you’d better think. Because God is incomprehensible and mysterious, we are totally dependent on the Scripture for guidance. We have no other source of what He’s really like, except what He’s told us that He’s like. We could sit here and endlessly speculate what God is like, but that’s just us, we’re down here as creatures.
Therefore, that’s the argument for why we have to go to Scripture as our only and total authority. If the Scripture is not our total, complete and final authority, then we’re left with speculation, which gets into the next doctrine we’re going to look at. Hopefully that clears up some of the problem. Granted, you don’t feel totally comfortable with this, like you don’t feel totally comfortable with the Trinity, how can God be three and one? But the discomfort that you feel is actually a testimony to your finiteness and your creaturehood. That discomfort means that finally in the last analysis I can’t get at the total view, I can’t get in God’s chair and look out at everything the way He looks out, and there’s that within me, because what does Eccl. 3:11 say? What has He put in our hearts? The sense of eternity, a sense of divinity, He’s put in our hearts. But Eccl. 3:11 goes on to say “but we cannot find out the end from the beginning,” so that tension that you feel, oh gee, I just want to get this explained somehow, and we can never get it totally explained.
That’s good, because if could get it totally explained it would mean we understand God as He understands Himself, and that implies that we’re not omniscient. So we have to be careful. We have to be accurate; I’m not arguing for sloppiness here, I’m just arguing for a sense of humility about what our capacities are in our understanding. Remember the cardinal virtue of humility, and I have to take my place as a creature, you have to take your place as a creature, underneath God, and say I understand this about you God, straighten out my thinking if it’s screwed up, but I will never totally understand You. You know what? That means that in eternity, in heaven, it will never be a dull and boring place. There are an infinite number of lessons to learn about God, endlessly, a well that will never run dry of mystery, of surprises, of things we never dreamed of that He pulls off forever and ever, over and over again, a new drama every day, a new act, an act that follows that act, and it just goes on and on and on, never ending, because our God is an infinite source of drama.
That’s the impeccability issue and the bottom line of impeccability; on the bottom of page 65 are the implications. On page 66 I cover the three implications. There are more but this is just to show you the value of this doctrine, it’s not theory, it’s not for the theologian in abstract ivory towers, this truth is revealed in Scripture for a very important reason. How you get these implications and a good way to study Scripture, whenever you try to learn a doctrine, always learn it in the context of the passage it appears in. Where’s kenosis? The doctrine of kenosis appears in Philippians 2:5-8. So if you want to see the way the Holy Spirit intended the truth to apply, go back to the context of Philippians 2:5-8 and see what was Paul talking about then; verse 4, all this truth. Paul was the kind of guy that I think if you asked him how he brushed his teeth in the morning you would come up with some big long dissertation about how Christ died on the cross and the Trinity, because for him all truth was related, there was no such thing as mundane trivial stuff.
Here are some of the implications of Christ’ perfection. “First, it reveals something about evil and human responsibility. Often well-intentioned Christians try to answer the evil problem by claiming that it was a necessary corollary to having genuine human choice in history. In Jesus’ case, however, there was genuine human choice without evil.” Right? We agree to that, human existence without evil. “Was Jesus supposed to sin in order to prove” He wasn’t a robot. Surely not. “Was Jesus supposed to sin in order to prove He had genuine choice? To err is not a necessary quality of being human,” did you ever hear that expression, to err is human; people use it all the time. Next time you hear that, say well, not necessarily, I know one exception. It’s a wonderful conversation opener to the gospel because it allows you to stop somebody short and then they’re asking you, you don’t have to shove it down their throat, they’re asking for it. So they open their mouth, you put it in, like a baby.
“A second very practical implication of impeccability follows from the first. If created humanity does not require evil, and if Jesus was the ‘test case’ that proves this in history, then what happens when we share His nature?” Got the question? Jesus Christ’s nature is perfect. If it’s really perfect and proven out to be perfect in history, what happens when we share that nature? This set ups certain passages in the New Testament, if you don’t go along with this thing you’re going to have trouble with some New Testament passages, because this bursts forth again in the New Testament epistles, and interpreters of the Bible hit grease when you look at what some people say about some of these passages.
Let’s turn to one of the trouble passages, 1 John 3:5, because this talks about the nature of Christ in the believer, and it says something that’s troubling. “And you know that He appeared in order to take away sins; and in Him there is no sin.” That’s talking about His impeccability, now we’ve got a vocabulary word we can attach a doctrine to that passage. So when we read it, now we’ve got some substance here, we can connect it and link it. “… in Him there is no sin.” Next verse,  “No one who abides in Him sins; no one who sins has seen Him or knows Him.” That seems to lay an impossible burden upon Christians. Actually, we have to get into this when we get into the epistles, but this is a case where the solution to the interpretation of that passage hinges on the impeccable nature of Jesus Christ. When he says that “no one who abides in Him sins,” he’s talking about when Christ’s nature manifests it never sins… when it’s manifested. Of course we can sin, because John tells us. John isn’t teaching perfectionism here, because we know from the first chapter, he says if we say we haven’t sinned we lie. So it’s not perfectionism that is taught of us, but it is a perfectionism of the nature of Jesus Christ that He manifests through us. The problem is we truncate it, we grieve the Spirit, we get out of fellowship, we stop the filling of the Spirit, etc. so we wall it up and limit it, but the life of Christ remains impeccable, just as it was in the Gospels. That is impeccability, and that’s the thing that John latched onto. And John says this more times in his writing, probably because John was so impressed with Jesus, he was the closest apostle to Him. Think of who John is here, he saw an awful lot of the impeccability of Christ and he really had a firm grasp of this, so when he talks about Christ’s nature, he’s got to continue that idea of impeccability.
The third implication of impeccability is that it demonstrates that you can get God’s qualities and man’s qualities together. We say, well gee, God’s sovereignty is incompatible with free choice. That’s because free choice is defined wrong. For some reason human choice and sovereignty worked fine with Jesus. Do you see why Paul said in Colossians 2:18 you’ve got to start your philosophy, your serious thinking, and your categories with what? Not according to the elements, the stoicheia, the basic categories of the world, he said don’t start there, you’ll be deceived, start with Jesus Christ. And by Jesus Christ he wasn’t talking about some Jesus stories, He was talking the hypostatic union and all the truths of Christology here. That’s where you start. Whatever you do philosophically you’d better be sure that it fits the yardstick of the hypostatic union. So however you define human choice and God’s sovereignty, your definitions have to fit the person of the Lord Jesus Christ. He wasn’t schitzo, these two things weren’t fighting each other, they came along perfectly. How do we do that? We’d better fix our words up when we talk about human responsibility and divine sovereignty so they work out. That’s why the hypostatic union is so central to all of these truths and discussions.
Now we come to a new truth, and we’re going to look a little bit at the third doctrine. We talked about the doctrine of kenosis, the doctrine of impeccability, Christ’s perfection. Now flowing out of that is the doctrine of infallibility. Did Jesus, even though He was morally …, here’s the argument, because evangelicals are slipping on this all over the board so pay attention to what’s happening. The argument is, yeah, yeah, I’ll agree that Jesus was morally and ethically correct, no mistake, no problem there, but you know, Jesus, He lived in the first century, I mean, He had a first century view, and in the first century people believed strange things about the universe. So Jesus didn’t intend to do this, I mean, He couldn’t help it, He was just a human being walking around the first century and He just articulated first century views that we now know are wrong. In other words, Jesus committed what they’ve called “technical errors.”
The argument of evangelicals that have bought into this errancy …, we used to laugh at seminary, one of the guys made books about this in the 60s and 70s, a guy by the name of Dewey Beegle, he wrote in Southern Baptist circles trying to get the Southern Baptists to believe in an errant Bible, not an inerrant Bible, an errant Bible. You’ve got to come of age Baptists, you guys got to get along and get with the program, the Methodists have gone this way, the liberal Presbyterians have gone this way, so I don’t know why you Baptists can’t also agree with the whole thing and go along with the same trend. You guys better recognize that Jesus made mistakes, Jesus made technical errors. So we used to say of Dewey Beegle that he believes the Bible errors and all.
Infallibility deals with this issue. Did Jesus make technical errors? If He made technical errors, does that violate impeccability? They claim no, they claim He could be innocently ignorant. Do you see the thrust; I’m just trying to show you the siren song of this position. Jesus can make technical errors, He didn’t intend to do that, but that didn’t bother His impeccability.
Let’s look at this. We noted, bottom of page 66, when we studied revelation, remember what the event was in the Old Testament where we linked that doctrine to? The giving of the Law at Mount Sinai—revelation. Revelation has certain characteristics. We said its verbal; thoughts are transferred in revelation, not just feelings. It’s personal, I’m not listening to the printout of a computer, I’m listening to the words of a person. It’s historical, it’s not abstract, it’s not theoretical, God speaks in the planet in human languages. If you had a tape recording you would have heard God speaking in the Hebrew language. It’s comprehensive; remember the Mosaic Law dealt with every aspect of society. [blank spot]
Did it deal with clothing? Yes. Why did it deal with all those other issues? Why didn’t He just talk about worship? Because truth is interrelated. The diet and the clothing and all the rest went along with worship because where do we worship? We walk around every day in the practical world with all these things. The world is one in the sense of the truthfulness of it, if God is Creator. So if I’m dealing with the physics of this microphone, and the electronics of this cable, I’m just as much dealing with the handiwork of God and the laws by which He made this, as I am when I’m sitting here praying, because He’s the Creator of all. So when He talks about something as the Creator, He means to include everything. And it’s prophetic, the other characteristic we learned, that is, it looks into the future and tells us things that are beyond the human horizon.
We want to spend time on this section, pages 67-68, Jesus’ historical and scientific claims, I won’t go to the verses because we’ve gone over those verses before and I think it will be obvious. “Since revelation is necessarily comprehensive, it should be no surprise that Jesus spoke about many things open to historical and scientific investigation. Did He err in doing so? Was He right in affirming that Genesis 1 and 2 both form a coherent account of creation?”
Turn to Matthew 19:4-6, let’s look at that passage in light of what our kids get in college. Every year somebody in Fellowship Chapel, either the person going to college or the parents, the person paying the tuition, comes to me and says, can you imagine what they’re teaching, they’re teaching that there’s conflicts in the Bible. No kidding! They’ve been doing that for about 240 years. Wake up, that’s the world system. Satan is not going to allow this Book to stand unopposed. And He’s going to use every trick that He can think of to undermine the text. When your kids go to school, and they can go to Christian schools and get the same kind of crap that they get from the secular schools, the only difference is in a Christian school you pay more for it. It’s disgusting, some local Christian schools teach the same stuff that you could get at Princeton, Harvard; it’s ridiculous, and these people are living off the contributions of God-fearing families who have saved money so that their kids could get a Christian education and they go to a Christian campus and they hear well, we don’t really believe that Genesis 1 and 2 really go together. Now we’re not really saying that Jesus made a mistake here, but we know now things that Jesus didn’t know. Oh really! We’re going to learn in the 21st century that there’s no such thing as sin, maybe it’s a psychological disturbance of the seventh gene, Jesus didn’t know that so He went and died for it.
Let’s look at Matthew 19; He’s dealing with a divorce issue, verses 4-6. “And He answered and said, ‘Have you not read, that He who created them from the beginning made them male and female.” What chapter of Genesis is that quoted from? Genesis 1. Next verse,  “For this cause a man shall leave his father and mother, and shall cleave to his wife; and the two shall become one flesh?” What chapter of Genesis is that quoted from? Genesis 2. Ooh, how can He do that if they’re two separate accounts? The Lord Jesus Christ clearly said, He’s building a doctrine here, He’s in the middle of the discussion of defining what marriage and divorce is, and He’s building a doctrine on the assumption that Genesis 1 and 2 are logically incompatible? Poor Jesus, He didn’t have his PhD or else He would have known New Testament criticism better than that. Now Jesus is articulating clearly the orthodox conservative belief in Genesis.
In the notes I give you three or four more instances. “Was He right in believing in a literal Abel, the son of a literal Adam (Matthew 23:35)?” He did, it’s all there in the open text, and it’s not hiding. “Did Jesus speak the truth about a literal flood with a literal Noah (Matthew 24:37-39)? Did He correctly insist on the Mosaic authorship of the Law (Luke 27:24)?” No Old Testament professor today, outside of the godly men who are teaching in the few good Christian schools, nobody today in scholarship circles in Old Testament believes that Moses wrote the Law. Nobody! It’s just a remnant, the faithful few, not because they’re super intelligent but because they’ve bought into an entire world view. Your children going to college, 90% probable, they’ll take a course in religion or something like this and they will have it shredded, the Mosaic Law authorship of the Law, it’s not believed at all. Jesus did.
Watch what happens, we’ve got a little tension setting up because when you get Christians, see what happens is we all have arrogance built into us because of the fall of man, but what happens when you get in academia is there’s a certain kind of arrogance that can easily creep into your soul. Your promotions in academia come from what? Publications, your acceptability with your peers. Who are your peers? People on the faculty. How do you get stature in academia? By publishing papers; before the papers can be published, what has to happen? Editors look at them and if they see and smell something not quite right, you don’t get published because there are fifteen other papers competing for that position of publication. You don’t make it. Now what happens to your resume when you want to teach at a college? How many papers have you published recently? None. We’ll put someone else in that position.
It’s a system that feeds on itself. And it’s very, very difficult for godly men and women on faculties; we have some of the great unsung heroes of our time are on faculties in this country. They engage every single day of their life for their career; their career hangs on this, for their defense of the faith. That’s what’s going on here. So when you get Christians who want academic respectability they’ve got to finally make a decision because there’s going to come a time when they’re going to have to decide, do I want my academic credentials more than I want my loyalty to Jesus Christ. The pressure is on, I’m not making light of that. I’m not saying I would do better, I’m simply observing, I’ve seen it, I’ve watched it for thirty or forty years.
Here comes an example of it, right here. G. C. Berkouwer, he’s a Reformed theologian in Holland. Holland was the only country in Europe to be ruled by a man who was a godly theologian at the turn of the century. Holland was ruled by a man who wrote the standard text on the Holy Spirit. There was a whole series of godly Christians in Holland and they had a very strong influence historically on Holland. And along came World War I and World War II and now there are more prostitutes in Holland, I guess, according to military friends of mine, than there are all over Europe together. It’s just a country that’s gone downhill, and now if you notice in the newspaper Holland has authorized doctors to poison people to death, that is a normal act of the medical profession, they help you live, they help you die, whatever switch you want turned they turn it. Mercy killing is legal in Holland today. That’s a country that had more light than any other country in Europe for the last 200 years. And that’s what they’ve done to it. We see the same thing going on, creeping into our own country.
Berkouwer was over there, he was this Reformed theologian and he wanted a lot of respectability among his peers, some of the stuff he wrote was great, but you know what they say about snake venom? It’s 90% protein; it’s the 4–5% of venom that bothers you. Berkouwer “argued that one must distinguish,” notice what’s happening here, “distinguish sin which involves willful turning from the truth, from technical error which involves ignorance and misinformation.” See the door he’s created? He thinks by making that distinction he can side with the higher critics of the Bible against Jesus and yet also somehow call himself a Christian by believing in Jesus’ impeccability and His sinlessness.
“Jesus might have been impeccable and the perfectly righteous One, according to this view, but He was not necessarily free in His humanity from ignorance and misinformation. Jesus’ belief in a literal Adam, Berkouwer thinks, is an instance of a technical error. The purpose of the Bible and Jesus, Berkouwer writes,” now watch this one, this is a key phrase, Dewey Beegle says it in his book, all the evangelicals that push this view say the same thing when you challenge it. What’s the purpose of the Bible? They’ve got to define the purpose of the Bible such that I can disbelieve Genesis without impinging on the purpose of the Bible. So what has to happen, they’ve got to define the purpose of the Bible so they can also have errors in the Bible without violating the purpose of the Bible.
Here’s how they do it. “Berkouwer writes,” the purpose of the Bible “ ‘is not at all to provide scientific gnosis [knowledge] in order to convey and increase human knowledge and wisdom, but to witness of the salvation of God unto faith.’ ” You’ll have to think about that for a while, this is something you have to think about, but there’s some greasy words being used in there. It’s true, isn’t it, we’re saying the purpose of the Bible is not to make everyone fatheaded. That’s not the purpose of Scripture, but somehow he says it’s “to witness of the salvation of God unto faith. Occurrence of technical errors, he supposes, does not hinder the purpose of” the Bible if that sentence describes the purpose of the Bible.
“According to such critics, Jesus’ righteousness coexists with ignorance that causes technical errors. Can this be true? It certainly is true of ourselves. The limitations of human knowledge jeopardize every thought and statement we make. Is it true, however, of Jesus? If Jesus functions as a prophet of revelation, as one who carries out God’s prosecution against those breaking His covenant, can technical errors be tolerated?” What did we learn in the Old Testament? I said in the Old Testament, pay attention to the definition of prophets, because we’re going to pick it up later.
Well now we’re picking it up. What was the definition of a prophet? What was the function of those prophets? They weren’t just ethical commentators. We said they were involved in something else. What was the standard the prophets used? The Mosaic Law Code. What was that Code? That was a contract between Yahweh and Israel. What were the prophets doing? Prosecuting attorneys. Under God the Holy Spirit they prosecuted violations by Israel of that contract. That was their function; we showed how Isaiah would harp back to Deuteronomy 32, he had that same format, he’s carrying out the same kind of things, O heavens, O earth, hear, now I’m going to present my case.
The prophets speaking for God prosecuted the nation for its sin. In order to carry out the prosecution, think of a courtroom. In a courtroom how does the prosecuting attorney, or any lawyer, defense attorney too for that matter, involved in a courtroom situation, what do they want to do to the witness? I was called up in a murder trial and I was a witness because some kids gang raped a girl, threw her out in the backyard, and the poor girl died of hypothermia. The question was whether the weather was cold enough to cause hypothermia. So here I was on the witness stand, and the county attorney was saying Mr. Clough do you want to… blah, blah, blah, what was the temperature, etc. Then the defense attorney came up, and he did his best to try to undercut my temperature data for that night. Now I stopped him cold with the fact that I happened to calibrate all my instruments at National Institute of Standards and Technology, and if you want you want to argue with them, go ahead.
The point is, what does a lawyer try to do? If you’re testifying to something, he tries to take this apart by attacking over here, or over here, or over here. The idea is to so doubt in the minds of the jury the credibility of the witness. He might not be able to so doubt directly on what you observe about the crime, but if he can show that you can’t even observe what color Mrs. Jimmie Jean wore Tuesday, he’s saying you’re sloppy, now if you’re sloppy over here and you’re sloppy over here, and you can’t get this straight, are we to believe you when you say that Joe killed Jim. Maybe you were seeing things, you regularly do that maybe. The idea is to destroy the testimony.
We’ll conclude by turning to John 3 because you’ll see the difficulty immediately with this false view of Scripture. In John 3:12 Jesus recognizes this, and what does He say? “If I told you earthly things and you do not believe, how shall you believe if I tell you heavenly things?” His point was if I tell you, and I talk about things that you on earth can observe and check out, and you don’t believe me there, when I tell you your sins are forgiven, what are you going do, go to heaven on a rocket and check your accounting books? How are you going to do that? You can’t observe that? You have to take My word for it. Now if you have shown that I can’t get My history straight, and you’ve shown that I’ve made technical errors all over the board, how can you trust Me when I offer you salvation for all eternity? See, it doesn’t go together.
We’ll come back to that, but you can see the line of logic that we’re pursuing here, that because of the contextual purpose of Jesus Christ and the prophets, they can’t be allowed to make technical areas because in the area of the technical errors where the history is. If Isaiah can’t get his history right how can he get the circumstances right to prosecute the nation? Because we said this is why you open up the Old Testament sometimes and you wonder what is all this. What are these boundary markers? What’s all this land business going on, it sounds like a real estate deal going on. Yes, it is. What was one of the promises of the Abrahamic Covenant? You’ll inherit the land; tribes had to be in certain lands. What’s the proof of it? Land records. Oh, that’s why those Scriptures are in here, I always thought they were in there so you could sleep while the pastor was reading the Bible and then when he got to a good spot you’d wake up. No. Those land records are in there so that it’s a testimony, factually, to God’s faithfulness.
Question asked: Clough replies: You perceived, correctly so, that in the classic doctrine of impeccability … that’s not my definition, that’s where we get into these definitions that have been passed down over the years. In the definition of kenosis, why do we say Christ gave up the “independent use” of His attributes, when you couldn’t imagine Him independently anyway. What’s the deal? Unfortunately with that word “independent” we’re at the same place we were with the word “able.” It’s how that word is used when it’s used on the Creator side of the equation. When you get into this you have to appreciate the battle that was being fought when that statement was made, because they’re always imbalanced somewhat they were fighting a war at the time and they had to suppress them. This is why there’s a reaction against Reformed thought and some of it is justified in that the Reformation tried so hard to crush humanism that it played heavy on the sovereignty of God. That was the thing that chopped off all this chance business, and unfortunately then what happened …, well, that was kind of a good idea that went to seed; it destroyed evangelism, missions, and it just had to get balanced up again.
That’s the trouble with all these statements; they can all be pushed to illegitimate things. The point that was at stake here in kenosis is they’re trying to say that Jesus didn’t in any way cease to be God. He emptied Himself of something, but whatever He emptied Himself, it couldn’t be His attributes. But what’s happened in church history? That’s how some theologians define kenosis when they start thinking about this that He must have given up His omnipotence, He must have given up His omniscience. They say He clearly didn’t use it; He didn’t use some of these attributes, He must not have had them. Then they see, like Hebrews 1, when it’s talking about the ascent of Christ into heaven and He was given power to reign, and they see that power to reign in that sort of passage, when He sits at His father’s right hand He was given back His omnipotence. That’s simply not correct. Jesus Christ manifested His omnipotence and His omniscience. We gave some illustrations of that. When He was allowing police to arrest Him in the Garden of Gethsemane in the middle of that action, for a split second He let go with omnipotence. When He said “I AM” the police force fell backwards on the ground. Then He went right on and it was like omnipotence turned off.
What I guess they’re trying to say there is that the Lord Jesus Christ had to, in His humanity …, let’s take a concrete specific, let’s picture the time that He was tempted and He was very hungry. And here Satan comes and Satan says you’re hungry right now, and He was, there’s no question that He was hungry, forty days without food I’d be hungry, so He was very hungry, to the point of starvation, and Satan says it’s easy for you, all you have to do is say the word, the stone turns to bread. The appeal was made to something that He could have done in the sense that He had the power to do it in His omnipotence. But He refused to exercise that power due to the fact that the Father had outlined this plan for Him, and it wasn’t the Father’s will for Him to meet Satan in the power of His deity. It was God’s will to meet Satan in the power of the Holy Spirit through His humanity, so He’d be a model for us. So He had to, then, not utilize His omnipotence in that state when you could say that He had a legitimate right to oppose Satan.
You could come back and say well yes, but it’s still the Father’s plan that’s going on there. Could you imagine the Trinity splitting apart in a committee of three that can’t agree? No we can’t. We have to hold to the unity of the Trinity. But whatever happened in those trials, that’s what they’re talking about, that He chose to meet the trials in His humanity rather than face off Satan with full divine powers. What happened? We don’t really know what happened.
To answer the question, it’s hedging, trying to avoid going off the road; that’s what a lot of these statement are, they’re hedges, we don’t want to do that and we don’t want to do this, so we’ll kind of get in here and stay with the Scripture as much as we can. That’s all that is. You’re right, the word “independent” has a nasty ring to it, and it’s the same when that non posse peccare and posse non peccare, the “able” has a nasty ring to it to it too because if you say He is not able to sin the way we normally think of the word “able” there, it makes it look like there wasn’t even a contest going on. We grant you that; it’s just, be aware that these words are difficult to use because we’re talking across the Creature/creature boundary line, and it’s very difficult to phrase it right.
Question asked: Clough replies: That’s right. The final bottom line is that what we want to do with our minds is we want to encompass the problem, and that desire to understand itself isn’t wrong. Where it gets wrong is when we insist that we’re not going to believe and we’re not going to obey, and we’re not going to do anything until we get it in our heads what’s going on here; we’re going to postpone everything until we figure it out. Then we’ve transgressed something right there. That’s arrogance, that’s intellectual arrogance. Humility is Lord, this is pretty neat and heavy stuff, and You are a wonderful God and I’m amazed at You, You’re majestic. That’s the worship of God, that’s what worshiping is.
Question asked: Clough replies: She brought up Romans 11 where He quotes, but you know what quote is? It’s not Paul, it’s Isaiah 40, just above the passage we went to, that’s where Paul got that from. He’s using Isaiah. But you’re right because in Romans 11 at the end what does Paul do? He has struggled, all through Romans 9, 10, and 11, and he deals with all this heavy stuff and hardening Pharaoh’s heart, he works through that, and after three chapters of this stuff what does He conclude with? “Oh the depth of the riches of both of the wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are His judgments and unfathomable His ways!” [Romans 11:33] Unsearchable and unfathomable His ways, exclamation point. Here’s one of the greatest geniuses in the human race, because I really believe Paul was one of the greatest geniuses in the human race who probably had the deepest and most profound understanding of doctrine of any person you could imagine outside of Jesus Himself. And then he quotes from Isaiah, [Romans 11:34] “Who has known the mind of the Lord, or who became His counselor?  Or who has first given to Him that it might be paid back to Him again?” And then he concludes,  “For from Him and through Him and to Him are all things. To Him be the glory forever.”
It’s that recognition of the depths and the riches of the incomprehensibility of our God, and you just walk away in awe, and that’s what He wants of us, not that He doesn’t want us to probe Him for those things because every time we dig we find treasure. But the problem is you never get to the end of the treasure. That’s the problem. We want to get to the end of the tunnel so we can kind of get it together. But then what would happen. Let’s imagine that we did that. Let’s just do a thought experiment here. Let’s image that we… ah, I got it, I’ve got it, it clicks, now I’m done. Now what do I do for the rest of eternity? So you never arrive, that’s the problem, you never arrive. And that’s why we have those mysterious… remember when we went through Job and we got into that suffering passage, and Job is dealing with the problem of good and evil, he’s hurting, he’s sick, he’s lost everything and talk about a guy… every church congregation has a Job family in it, one time or another, I’ve just watched this, a family just gets clobbered with one thing after another. I’ve often thought, we ought to really give out an annual Job award because it just seems that people just get clobbered. It doesn’t come one a month; it has to come five in one day. That’s what happened in Job’s case.
But when God comes to Job, He’s like a freight train; this is not quite the nice counseling session, oh what’s your name, have you had a good day today, let’s get to know one another, the touchy feeling kind of thing, then we’ll talk about your problems. He comes in and He says all right, who is this that darkens counsel by words without knowledge? Answer Me, gird up your loins like a man, I’ll ask you and you instruct Me. Ooh! Where were you when I laid the foundations of the world? Bam, Bam, Bam, I think I counted up thirty-seven questions and all of them are really questions that have no answer. So why does God do that? Why does He come in apparently so cruel, so rough?
I suggested that I think one reason He does that is because when we’re hurting, when we’re depressed, and when we’re so stressed out, we are so emotionally wrapped up with our pain, with our sorrow, our resentments, our frustrations, our depression, we’re a basket case, we’re immobilized. And I think what He’s doing here is when you ask someone a question, what does that force them to do. It’s like serving a ball across the net. The question is the ball; He knocks it into our court, what does He want us to do? Hit it back. What do you have to do to hit it back? You have to think. Now you have to draw on the reservoirs of the Word of God in your heart and you have to dig down and pull it out, and finally after all this the Word of God …, it’s like blood, it begins to flow, get the circulation going, and the emotions, the pain and the sorrow kind of shed, lower down.
Ironically it’s almost opposite to what modern counseling theory argues for. When people came into Columbine out in Colorado, I guess it was Chuck Colson was saying how professional grief counselors came in, ordered into the schools, and the kids were pushed and shoved, you’ve got to go see the counselors, got to get this grieving process going, and they found out the kids weren’t going to the counselors. How come the kids aren’t going to the counselors? Because they’d been going to their youth groups, to their churches, to their pastors. Oh, we didn’t think about that. What can the grief counselors do? On a secular basis? One of the techniques they use, if you’re grieving over the loss of someone the technique is to get you to emotionally cut your bonds with that person. That’s their way of dealing with grief. Come on! If you’ve lost a loved one is the solution to the pain and sorrow just to forget you ever knew them? I don’t think so; I think you’re fooling yourself. You can’t let that person go that way. So what do you do? It gets back to the envelopment idea.
You take the problem, like God does with Job, and you can’t tear the problem up and throw it away, you can’t push it out the door and get rid of it because it keeps coming back, so God encompasses the problem. It’s like a cyst; He encysts it with truth or Scripture. Then finally you begin to relax, and the more you can relax and calm down, the more you can see, okay, I believe that He has a purpose for me for this, and I really do mean that. It’s not that somebody quoted a verse and yes I believe that (no I really don’t) but I believe that (no I really don’t). It’s not that give and take. It’s really a depth trust. But see, you don’t get there in one step; it takes a process to get settled. The way God comes in like gangbusters there is His method of doing it. You see Jesus do that same thing. He always starts out with questions. And I’ve been impressed with that. Every time God maneuvers… what did He do in Adam’s case? After the fall, what did He do, what was the first sentence out of God’s mouth? Why are you, hey, you whoo; what did that do? That was the tennis ball; it was put over into his area. Now it’s yours, go ahead, hit it back to Me. That’s what Jesus was doing with that woman, He said something, you’re being coy about it, I’ll put the ball in your court, now you bang it back to Me. When God does that you have to reach down with a paddle, pick the thing up and bang it over, even though you don’t feel like doing it. But He puts you in that position, and then once you do that, oh, I can do that, oh yea.
Job, in the end, after all these questions, still doesn’t get his questions answered. God never answers His questions, but Job is able to relax. That gets back to what we’ve been talking about tonight, we have these questions, we don’t quite know how impeccability fits in, and the hypostatic union, but by concentrating on who He is as our Creator, we can come to rest. It’s not that we believe there’s contradictions, the unbeliever’s idea of what we’re doing here is that well, you’ve given up all hope of figuring it out; you’re given up all hope of rationality. That’s his position. That’s not what we’re saying. We believe in rationality. Surely God is rational. We believe in reason, that’s precisely why those kids went to their pastors in Denver. They went there because they were answered why did this happen, there has to be a reason behind this massacre.
Did any of the pastors have an answer? Not directly, like Job 1, we don’t know what the councils of heaven were, why those two kids were allowed to go shoot everybody. God didn’t share that. But what happened when these kids went and started pouring out their heart to the Lord in prayer and getting back. It was because finally in the last analysis, you become persuaded, yes, there is a reason for this. Do I know it? No. But I know the One who knows it, and there you rest your case. But see, you can’t do it quickly and you can’t do it while you’re emotions are tearing you up, you can’t do it while you’re all upset, there’s a certain heart-settling process that has to happen and that’s why God comes on like that.
We’re going to encounter this again when we get into the death of Christ, and we’re going to continue working infallibility, this technical error thing. Jesus did not make technical errors; we’re going to show that. Fortunately, infallibility is going to be a lot easier to handle than kenosis and impeccability.