Tag Archives: Man

The Human Ministry of Jesus Empowered by The Spirit

In this video ( Why We Won’t Sing Bethel Music in Our Church ),[1] Costi Hinn and friends accuse Bill Johnson of heresy concerning the incarnation or humanity of Jesus.

They quote Johnson saying, “laid His divinity aside,” “as a man,” and “did these miracles.” They say from this Johnson and other Charismatics like him teach the false doctrine we are to be like Jesus, by being filled with the Spirit and working miracles like Him.

Costi Hinn (along with Dale Thackrah Kyle Swanson) concludes that Johnson’s statements mean, “Jesus was not God, when He did these miracles,” and therefore it is “heresy to say Jesus was not God.”

I will not stay long on this point, other than to say, from what was quoted, (not regarding the totality of what Johnson says, for I have not read the book) Cosit slandered and bore false witness against Johnson. The phrase “laid His divinity aside,” could as easily mean, Jesus was still God, but did not chose to use all that was available to Him as God. For example, “Jesus grew in knowledge and wisdom,” does not mean Jesus “was not God”; rather, it means Jesus as a man, laid His infinite knowledge/wisdom aside, (i.e. chose not to use it), while the eternal Son of God still had His infinite knowledge (more on how this works later).

Jesus said that He “cast out Satan by the Spirit,” and not His own power. It was the Spirit who empowered the man Jesus Christ, for ministry, it was not Jesus’ own power that empowered Him for ministry. Jesus chose to use the power of the Spirit for ministry. This does not mean Jesus never used His own authority or power, in any way whatsoever, but that Jesus born as a man, under the Law, chose to operate in that limitation, and so was anointed by the Spirit (Isaiah 61) to do ministry and miracles. Jesus grew in knowledge like a normal man would; and this does not mean Jesus was not God or stop being divine. Example, I can choose to not use my right arm, without my arm ceasing to exit.

I do not know what all Johnson teaches on this, and I have no reason to care. What I care about it that these men claim to be intellectually and morally superior, and they are not; they are intellectually broken and morally wicked. They are slanderers.

For a more detailed look into what it means for the Son of God to be clothed in humanity, look at Vincent Cheung’s Systematic Theology (2010) pages 140-142.  Here are some selected quotes from this book.

“…In a similar way, the doctrinal formulation for the personhood and incarnation of Christ states that he is one in one sense, and two in a different sense. That is, he is one person who possesses two natures. To ensure the clarity and coherence of this doctrine, we need to define the terms and relate them to the doctrine of the Trinity. The way “nature” is used in the doctrine of the incarnation is similar to the way “essence” is used for the Trinity. They refer to the definition of something, and the definition of something refers to the attributes or properties of something. A “person” is again defined by the consciousness or intellect.

In the incarnation, God the Son took up a human nature, or human attributes. The divine and the human natures did not combine or mingle, so that both sets of attributes remained separate. His divine nature was not diminished by his human nature, and his human nature was not deified by his divine nature. Since the divine nature was not modified by the human nature, as indeed the divine nature cannot be modified, this doctrinal formulation reaffirms the immutability of God the Son. And indeed, a human nature cannot be deified, and neither can deity be conferred. Since deity is eternal, if a person is not deity to begin with, he can never become deity.

God the Son took up a human nature, and a human nature must include a human soul or mind. Although a “person” is defined in terms of the mind or intellect, the doctrine is that Christ remains one person even though he possesses two natures. This is so because of the definition of a person as a system of consciousness, and because of the nature of the relationship between the divine mind and the human mind.

First, we must insist that Christ is one “person,” because the Bible never refers to him as “they,” as it sometimes does the Trinity. Based on the way that the Bible refers to him, the way that he refers to himself, and the way that he behaves, there is no reason to think that he is not one person. Thus there is a need to arrive at a formulation that retains the view that Christ is one person even though he has two centers of consciousness. This need is not arbitrary, but it is necessitated by the biblical data.

The proper formulation is to state that God the Son took up a human nature, including a human mind, in such a manner that the human mind is contained by the divine mind, although the two are not in any way mingled or confused. Whereas the divine mind has complete control over the human mind, the human mind does not have free access to the divine mind, but it receives special information and capabilities only as granted by the divine mind…”

The important point of Vincent’s formulation is this, Jesus’ “human nature was not deified by his divine nature.” This doctrine is immune to contradiction. It still affirms the full deity of the Son of God and that His deity never stopped existing in all its fullness.

Thus, I can say, in context of the explained doctrine, “Jesus put aside His deity,” and “as a man, was filled with the Spirit, and did miracles as a man empowered by the Spirit.” Jesus commands us to be men (albeit born-from-above men), filled with the Spirit, and work His same miracles. Jesus says He did His whole ministry by the Spirit, quoting Isaiah. Peter says in Acts 2 that Jesus has given us this empowerment of the Spirit, as a promise of the Father. Paul says this Spirit and miracle power for us, is part of the ancient promise to Abraham. Jesus our forerunner, showed us how to be men born-from-above, filled with faith and the Spirit of power.

“Third, since that time the promise of the Father — the Holy Spirit — has been poured out. The effect of this baptism of the Spirit (Acts 1:5) is to infuse the followers of Jesus with the same power to work miracles (Acts 1:8, Luke 24:49) that Jesus himself possessed (Luke 4:14, 8:46, Acts 10:38). This power could heal the sick and cast out demons (Acts 10:38, Matthew 12:28), and it also produces visions, dreams, prophecies, and speaking in tongues (Acts 2:4, 2:17-18).”[2]

Even if some Charismatics do not explain the incarnation in perfect precision, I couldn’t care less, and it does not matter. Tradition is not as great as they think are in their statements about the humanity of Jesus; therefore, tradition is less than unimportant to me. Seriously, if I cared any less, I’d be dead. And despite some narrowly correct statements about the incarnation by the Reformed, any Charismatic, with their less precise doctrine, but who works miracles in faith and power of the Spirit, 10,000 more times apply a correct doctrine of the incarnation than all the Reformed tradition and books, and churches combined. This is the legacy of faith and shout of value to the Spirit, which the Charismatics have (as imperfect as they are).

The issue is this, the Bible explains the doctrine. Those who criticize the Charismatics either slander them, or make non-relevant personal attacks, while ignoring the Biblical doctrine that is clearly taught by others, like Vincent Cheung. Because the Bible correctly explains the incarnation, and the human ministry of Jesus, and Jesus’ own command for us to do His works (even doing greater works) the Reformed’s attack on the Charismatics (despite some of their sloppy or undetailed explanations) is ultimately an attack on the Bible itself. This is the Reformed’s legacy and damnation.

————–Endnotes————

[1] Why We Won’t Sing Bethel Music in Our Church ep. 10.

[2] Vincent Cheung. Behold I Give you Power. From the ebook, Hero. 2022. pg 89

God’s Authority & Not Man’s Freedom Makes Man Accountable

Before going over a more positive stating of God’s sovereignty, we will deal with this idea of man’s responsibility and accountability to God, since the wrong doctrine of this is used to negate what the Bible says about God’s sovereignty and man.

This is both an ultimate question about God’s sovereignty and Christian ethics, and so, this will be dealt with more in that section.

Man is responsible and accountable to God, not because man is free from God’s direct control; rather it is the complete opposite. Man is accountable, because man is not free to God’s sovereign authority to hold man accountable.[1] Accountability does not presuppose freedom; rather, it presupposes a sovereign authority that you cannot escape from. Without a parent, how is child (if you can still call them that) responsible? Without teachers, students (if you can still call them that) are not accountable. Without a government of some sort, citizens (if you can still call them that) are not responsible.  

The point is, if you take the authority away, accountability is not merely partially removed, it is completely removed. On the other hand, I can hold my clay vase accountable for not talking to me, by slamming against the wall, and then throwing it into the fire. Whether or not you like this, is not the question. The issue is painfully obvious, even without freedom, my sovereign authority over the clay vase, is all that is needed to make it accountable. 

And in fact, this is exactly what Paul says in Romans 9 when the issue of how is man being accountable to God, when man is not free from God controlling man (like how God controlled Pharaoh, by hardening his heart).

Also, if you recall earlier comments about God’s transcendence, God is not merely above being accountable; God is categorically not even related to such a category. There is nothing above God. There is no other power. There is no other causality. There is no possibility for God not to be absolutely sovereign, and so it is impossible for there to even be a possibility or another power or metaphysical dualism. Because the possibility is not even possible, it means God is categorically separate from such a term. Is color above the concept of numbers, or do they have no necessary relation to even be considered in such a way? Because God is transcendent to man in this regard, we therefore know, when a person tries to apply accountability to God, by relating how it works with man, just made a metaphysical, intellectual and ethical no, no (to say it nicely).

First, Paul brings in the example of the twins who were, one chosen for mercy and the other damnation—before they were born or had done good or bad choices—to show God’s choices and His resulting causation from these choices includes both good and bad; both light and dark; both mercy and damnation. Paul then brings in additional examples of the old testament regarding a positive choosing and then also a negative choosing. Moses is the example for mercy and the Pharaoh is the example of damnation.

This is classic systematic theology. Paul is bringing in different passages ranging over the Scripture that address the same theological category. From this Paul then gives a summary of a doctrinal statement that is to be believed and obeyed. “God chooses to show mercy to some, and he chooses to harden the hearts of others, so they refuse to believe.” And this doctrinal comprehension includes what Paul stated before in the formation of it: “before they are born or had done good or evil.

If some say that the twins were a representation of nations, then Paul’s point is made even more so, for then it would mean, before millions were born or had made choices of good or evil that God chose some would obtain mercy and some damnation.[2] This point, logically therefore, is a point of non-relevance. However, this objection shows that such a person not only is defective in their objection but demonstrates they miss the entirety of what Paul is doing here. Paul is doing systematic theology. He brings many individuals and then asserts with logic and divine inspiration, that these are not an exception of God’s power and active; rather, Paul shows this is how God uses this power of causality over all humans for all time. That is, categorical premises of “all,” not some. 

Back to Paul’s doctrinal statement. He does not wish for people to miss the point. One can see how Paul bracketed the part about the twins (before they had made choices of good or evil) in the verse. Paul wanted to head off the misinterpretation that despite being born, God looked ahead and considered the twins choices of good or evil, to then decide who to show mercy and who to dam to hell. And so, Paul stops the flow of the statement to clarify that God did not consider their choices in determining their future of heaven or hell. 

God punishes the Pharaoh after saying He first hardened (first mention in Exodus) the Pharaoh’s heart. To this Paul’s opponent says,

if Pharaoh went along with God’s causality(ontology)

—that is, to be hard hearted and resist God’s command(ethic)

—then why is Pharaoh punished?”

This objection is bottom of the barrel stupid and displays a mind that is spiritually broken and mentally faulty.  Again, this is like saying trees and cats are the same, therefore, why don’t’ trees walk? It is a category fallacy.  All Christian ethics are God’s commandments. The Pharaoh was a lawbreaker by disobeying God’s command to let His people go. He is guilty, not because He did or did not resist God’s causality, but because He resisted obeying God’s command.

Some say that man is “more than a clay pot.” This is true, but only if whole analogy is taken up together.[3] Thus, if man is more than clay, then God is infinitely much more than a mere potter. Therefore, as much as man is more than clay, it is not a true infinite. God however is truly infinitely more than a mere man. Thus, if the analogy is taken up then the point of God’s sovereign control over man’s destinies apart from man’s choice is literally made “infinity” stronger.

This clay analogy reminds of how teachers and preachers today directly contradict the Scriptures teaching. They are blasphemers who would rather suffer the Scripture to nonsense, than let their cowardly souls suffer from confessing their unbelief. It appears popular in many Christian traditions to say God takes a wicked clay lump and God chooses to let some remain in this wicked lump state and make them into wicked pots. In addition, God chooses to take some of this wicked clay lump save them and make them into a good clay pot.  How obvious that this is not what the verse says. The lump is not already wicked or good. It is unformed, without choices of good or evil. It is a neutral unformed lump. It is like what is said about Jacob and Esau, “before they had done good or evil,” God decided to love one and hate the other.

This lines up with the objection Paul’s opponent brings up.

“If the Creator takes me from a neutral clay lump(that is not already bad) and makes me into a wicked pot, and I obviously go along with God’s causality, then why does God find fault with me, even if He commanded me to do good?”

This question of “responsibility” is precisely what Paul’s opponent asks in Romans 9:19.

…Therefore you will say to me, “Why then does he still find fault? For who has resisted[o] his will? (LEB)

…Well then, you might say, “Why does God blame people for not responding? Haven’t they simply done what he makes them do?” (NLT)

We will now put into the verse the clear terms for command(responsibility) and God’s absolute causality: or Christian ethics and Christian ontology.

“Why does God [hold people responsible] for not responding [to His command]?

Haven’t they simply done what [He absolutely directly causes them to do]?

or

“Why then does he still find fault? [Ethics]

For who has resisted[o] his will? [Ontology]

Thus, Paul’s opponent is dealing with the issue of man’s responsibility when man is considered relative to God controlling and causing man to do. Paul’s opponent correctly restates Paul’s position about God’s absolute sovereignty saying “who has resisted God’s will (causality/sovereign control). Paul’s opponent understands that Paul position is that God is actively and absolute controlling man. The opponent says that “no person has resisted God’s will.” God’s will here is defined in context to me God’s causality not command, because it is painfully obvious people resist obeying God’s commands.

Thus, the opponent is saying,

Paul, your position is that no person has never resisted God’s causality, in causing them to make good or evil choices; but, if that is true, then why does God still hold us responsibly for things He sovereignly caused us to do?”

On the contrary, O man, who are you who answers back to God? Will what is molded say to the one who molded it, “Why did you make me like this”? Or does the potter not have authority over the clay, to make from the same lump a vessel that is for honorable use and one that is for ordinary use?
(Romans 9:20-21 LEB)

Paul’s reply is interesting because it ignores the fallacy of the opponent, and simply gives a positive answer about God’s authority and power. The fallacy of the opponent lies in what we disused earlier about God’s transcendence over commands given to man.  God is not merely above the laws; rather, laws do not categorically apply to Him. The Bible defines sin and evil as lawlessness. Thus, you cannot accuse God of sin or a wrong, without a law being transgressed by God. But laws do not categorically apply to God. Thus, it is categorically impossible for God to do sin or evil. It is not that God can do evil but chooses not to. No. The possibility does not even exist.

Who are you who answers back to God?” Paul ignores this, in that He does not address it directly; rather, Paul rebukes the opponent in this way: “as a man you are acting like God and as a man are trying to put God under a law.” The opponent has the role of God and man flipped. That is, the opponent’s position is not merely a little bit wrong, it is upside-down wrong.

The potter [has] AUTHORITY over the clay, to make from the same lump…” Remember the context is about why is man responsible. If ever there was a time for the Bible to say man’s accountability is based on freedom or freewill, now is the time. Now is the foundational issue or linchpin about man’s responsibility. Paul gives his positive answer to why man is responsible to God. God is an AUTHORITY OVER THE MAN. The answer given is NOT “God gave man freedom.” NO. The contradiction of this is given. Man is NOT free from God’s AUTHORITY to make man however He wants.

The way Paul does answer this presupposes what we just went over; that responsibility presupposes a higher authority and not freedom. If you are responsible, then it means you are not free, but under an authority. Paul’s answer to why people are responsible—even like Pharaoh, by performing the works God causes them to perform—is that God is an authority over them. That is, Paul appeals to that fact that God is a sovereign authority over us. We are responsible precisely because we are not free, but under God’s authority.

It can be said that God makes it—as an additive—that having more knowledge makes us guiltier. This can be said about metaphysics on a relative level when said about us. That is, we are led away by “OUR” own desires. However, both additives only work as adding to our responsibility because God as an “authority” over us commands it so! That is, without us being free from God’s sovereign authority and control over us, He adds additional rewards and condemnation if we have more knowledge (knowledge that He chose to give or not give us).

For the God’s elect children, the point is that though Jesus Christ’s imputed righteous (ethics) they have completed the requirement of obeying God. They have been credited with a perfect Christian ethic that is fulfilled and the receipt printed off. After new birth they are given the Holy Spirit that causes(ontology) them to behave in accordance with the perfect obedience already credited to their accounts. That is, as Pharaoh could not resist God causing him to reject His command, the Elect cannot resist the Holy Spirit causing them to be sanctified


—-Endnotes——

[1] I learned to say this doctrine in this way from Vincent Cheung (and some from Gordon Clark). See Vincent’s many mentions of this in his books. (www.vincentcheung.com)

[2] I learned this argument from Vincent Cheung. See, “More than a Potter.”

[3] This basic idea of taking the analogy up with both parts was brought to my attention by an essay of Vincent Cheung, “More Than A Potter.” Found in “Author of Evil.” 2014. Ch.18.