Sunday, October 31, 2010


(The following has been excerpted from my e-book "On the Lord's Table")

A wonderful thing came out of the Reformation that began with Martin Luther nailing his Ninety five Theses to the (presumably) solid door of the church in Wittenberg, Germany on October 31st 1517. It’s one of the things we tend to take for granted. The inscripturated Word of God (which speaks of the incarnated Word of God) was put into the hands of ordinary people.

Almost eighty years previous, also in Germany, Johannes Gutenberg around 1440 invented a printing press with moveable and replaceable type. Gutenberg published the Bible using a Latin translation from about AD 380.

When the Reformation began in 1517 the Church began to abandon discouraging people from reading the Bible, and instead began to encourage it .And the beauty of it was that better translations became available to the ordinary people, translations in their native tongues. There’s no better way to speak to the collective heart of any people than in their native language.

Now, with the ready availability of the Scriptures to the ordinary people in their own languages came a wonderful thing! No longer were priests and popes the sole interpreters of Scripture, but Scripture alone was to be its own interpreter!

'The infallible rule of interpretation of Scripture is the Scripture itself; and therefore, when there is a question about the true and full sense of any Scripture, (which is not manifold, but one,) it must be searched and known by other places that speak more clearly.' Westminster Confession of Faith 1:9.

I’d like to use this system of interpretation as we look at what was a very controversial piece of Scripture at the time of the Reformation. It’s found in Matthew 26:26, in the second half of verse 26 where it says that Jesus said, ‘Take, eat; this is My body.’

As He was instituting the Lord’s Supper Jesus gave His disciple bread to eat. Now, there are variations of these words in the three synoptic Gospel accounts and of course in the 1 Corinthians 11 account given by the Apostle Paul. However, each of these four accounts just mentioned contain the words, ‘This is My body.’

Now as we go, I’d like us to keep in mind the great wrestling match that went on over these words. What exactly does Jesus mean when He says, ‘This is My body’? There’s the Roman Catholic view, the Lutheran view, the so-called Zwinglian view. Then there’s the view of Calvin.

It was really only at the time of the Reformation beginning in 1517 that the Roman Catholic view was successfully challenged from Scripture. However, Calvin held that, ‘Among the early Christians, there was no contention as to the Lord’s Supper... They all understood Christ’s words figuratively... Augustine... terms it a foul affair to eat the flesh of Christ corporeally!’ (From Francis Nigel Lee).

It wasn’t until the 10th and 11th centuries that the doctrine of Transubstantiation really began to take hold. It was first referred to as Transubstantiation in the 12th century. The Roman Catholic view, is that the bread and the wine in the Lord’s Supper Transubstantiate, ie, change into the actual body and blood of Christ.

The technicality of what Rome is saying is that while the substance changes, the accidents remain the same. Talk about double-speak! But whatever way you look at it, Rome teaches that you are physically eating the actual flesh and blood of Christ when you partake of its Mass. Which is to say that Rome believes that when Jesus said, ‘Take, eat; this is My body’ He was feeding His disciples chunks of His own flesh!

The Reformers of course begged (if begged is the right word!) to differ on this! But on what basis? Well, this is where the Scriptures come in. The supposed change to the bread and wine into the flesh and blood of Christ was supposedly brought about by a priest uttering the words, ‘hoc enim est corpus meum.’ This is Latin for ‘This is my body’ and is probably where the term hocus-pocus comes from.

But where in Scripture do we get the notion that the bread and wine were going to Transubstantiate? That’s the point! There is no solid Scriptural basis for the Doctrine of Transubstantiation! And if bread and wine are transformed into the body and blood of Christ, then inevitably people will end up worshipping the elements!

So, what did Jesus actually have in mind when He said, ‘This is My body’ as He instituted the Lord’s Supper? We’ve already noted that the early Church understood the words Jesus spoke as figurative. Which is to say that they believed that the bread and wine symbolized Christ’s body and blood.

However, the great Reformer Luther sailed close to the Romish wind, eventually coming up with what is commonly known as the Doctrine of Consubstantiation. Lutheran Consubstantiation differs from Roman Catholic Transubstantiation in that it is a view that somehow Christ is present bodily in, under and through the bread and wine.

Rome says that the bread and wine become the body and blood of Christ. Lutheranism says that the body and blood of Christ become present in the bread and the wine.

There is not a tremendously great difference between these two views – at least as I’ve stated them! But both Zwingli and Calvin had a massive problem with the Roman and the Lutheran view.

So, what’s the main problem with Christ somehow being humanly present in the bread and the wine or the bread and wine becoming Christ’s flesh and blood? Well, it’s all to do with the physical body of Christ!

Where in Scripture does it teach the human ubiquity of Christ? In other words, where are we taught that Christ’s body can be everywhere at once?

Zwingli overcame this problem by concluding that the words of institution were figurative. So Zwingli at least had something in common with the early Church fathers. Zwingli rejected the physical presence of Christ in the Supper, but, it should be noted that he didn’t deny that Christ was spiritually present to believers.

We usually refer to the Zwinglian view of the Lord’s Supper as the symbolic view. Zwingli held that the Lord’s Supper is primarily a memorial of Christ’s sacrifice. However, keep in mind Zwingli held that there was a spiritual benefit to be had by believers.

Now enter that great systematiser of Biblical teaching – John Calvin. Calvin refused to go beyond Scripture in any of His teachings. He would go only as far as the Scriptures went, and no further! To Calvin, like Zwingli, he saw no change taking place in the elements. The elements do not Transubstantiate or Consubstantiate. But like Zwingli Calvin held that the Scriptures taught that a spiritual feeding takes place.

Now, it’s hard for me to nail down the exact specifics of what Calvin had in mind, but he was of the view that believers spiritually feed on Christ’s physical body in the Lord’s Supper. But, and here’s the real the point to the whole issue – Jesus is in heaven bodily. Therefore to feed on His flesh and blood believers must somehow access Him in Heaven. This we do spiritually in the Lord’s Supper through the enabling of the Holy Spirit. Which is to say that the bread and wine do not change into the body and blood of Christ.

Nor is Christ bodily present in, under or with the bread and wine. Rather the Holy Spirit enables us to feed on Christ who is in Heaven. But it’s a not a physical feeding, but rather a spiritual feeding! Which is to say that the bread and the wine at the Lord’s Supper are not just feeding the believer’s stomach, but are feeding the total man. The bread stays bread and the wine stays wine, but they are a means by which the believer communes with Christ.

Christ is physically in Heaven, but the Holy Spirit enables you to lift your heart to heaven and partake of Christ’s flesh and blood. Yes, you really do partake of Him – but spiritually, not physically. Sure, sometimes it’s hard for us to understand how we can do a thing spiritually. But God is Spirit. And because He is Spirit He therefore does everything spiritually – even back when He formed the heavens and the earth!

Can you think of anything God has done that is not spiritual? No? Well, according to Calvin the Bible teaches that believers do something spiritual at the Lord’s Table. We spiritually partake of the physical flesh and blood Christ who bodily is in Heaven. But, we have seen that Calvin rejects both Transubstantiation and Consubstantiation. And that he goes further than Zwingli in that Calvin is teaching a spiritual feeding on Christ’s flesh and blood.

Yes, Zwingli did not deny Christ’s spiritual presence in the Supper, but Calvin goes into the detail of that presence. When the believer eats and drinks of the cup he is spiritually partaking of Christ’s flesh and blood who is in the heavenly realms!

Our own Confession, which was forged refined and refined in the furnace of the Reformation, has this to say about believers spiritually feeding on the body and blood of Christ,

'Worthy receivers, outwardly partaking of the visible elements in this sacrament, do then also inwardly by faith, really and indeed, yet not carnally or corporally, but spiritually, receive and feed upon Christ crucified, and all benefits of His death: the body and blood of Christ being then not corporally or carnally in, with, or under the bread and wine; yet as really, but spiritually, present to the faith of believers in that Ordinance, as the elements are to their outward senses.’ Westminster Confession of Faith 29:7.

So, we have a bit more of an idea now on what it means to ‘feed on Christ’ in the Lord’s Supper. Think about it, the Apostle Paul calls Christ our ‘Passover.’ And the Passover Lamb was representative of Christ. But more than that, no longer was the Lamb to represent Christ.

Now the bread and the wine were to represent His body and blood broken and shed for you. But more than that, they are a means of grace whereby Christ meets with believers. He is the real Lamb of God whose sacrifice and shed blood give us eternal life. To be sure, we don’t need to partake of the Lord’s Supper to receive eternal life. However, believers are spiritually strengthened, they have their faith strengthened by partaking of the Lord’s Supper.

Jesus had said long before He instituted the Lord’s Supper, ‘Whoever eats My flesh and drinks My blood has eternal life, and I will raise him up at the last day. For My flesh is food indeed, and My blood is drink indeed’ John 6:54-55.

Calvin acknowledges that in these verses Jesus is not referring directly to the Lord’s Supper. However, he does say,

'Indeed it would have been foolish and unreasonable to discourse about the Lord’s Supper, before He had instituted it. It is certain, then, that He now speaks of the perpetual and ordinary manner of eating the flesh of Christ, which is done by faith only. And yet, at the same time, I acknowledge that there is nothing said here that is not figuratively represented, and actually bestowed on believers, in the Lord’s Supper; and Christ even intended that the holy Supper should be, as it were, a seal and confirmation of this sermon.'

Calvin says, ‘The doctrine which is here taught is sealed in the Lord’s Supper.’ So, believers eat and drink the flesh and blood of Christ. They do it by faith – they do it spiritually. So the real difference between Calvin and the Roman Catholic and the Lutheran view of the Lord’s Supper has to do with the present existence of Christ’s body.

Romanism and Lutheranism believe in the ubiquity of Christ’s body. But Calvin does not believe that Scripture teaches the omnipresence of Christ’s humanity. Christ is in Heaven – bodily, until He returns. So, when Jesus says, ‘Take, eat, this is My body’ He is saying that the bread represents His body. However, by eating the bread you are spiritually feeding on Christ’s physical body. And, because Christ has ascended to Heaven bodily, the Holy Spirit accommodates this.

So, the bottom line is this: How can Jesus be bodily present as or in the bread and wine when He is bodily in Heaven?

As God He can be everywhere at once. But Christ is also fully Man. As a Man He increased in wisdom and stature (Luke 2:52). As God He knows all things and is all wise and infinite. But as a Man He doesn’t know all things and has to increase in wisdom. Therefore as a human being He’s finite. We must not confound the two natures of Christ. He is fully God and fully Man at the same time. He has two distinct natures but is one Divine Person forever. We must keep each nature distinct from the other.

'Two whole, perfect and distinct natures, the Godhead and the manhood, were inseparably joined together in one Person, without conversion, composition, or confusion, Which Person is very God and very man, yet one Christ, the only Mediator between God and man.' Westminster Confession of Faith 8:2

Transubstantiation and Consubstantiation confuse the two natures of Christ. They make His humanity ubiquitous or Omnipresent. In other words they ascribe Christ human nature divine attributes. God is everywhere at once, but a true human being cannot be everywhere at once. In other words, ubiquity or omnipresence go against the true nature of a human being.

Christ is fully Man. After His resurrection Jesus went to some lengths to illustrate that He was still fully human. We read about Jesus after His resurrection in Luke 24:36ff. His disciples are all together and the two men who just met Jesus on the road to Emmaus were telling them that they had met the resurrected Christ when He appeared in their midst.

Luke 24:36, ‘Now as they said these things, Jesus Himself stood in the midst of them, and said to them, “Peace to you.” But they were terrified and frightened, and supposed they had seen a spirit. And He said to them, “Why are you troubled? And why do doubts arise in your hearts? Behold My hands and My feet, that it is I Myself. Handle Me and see, for a spirit does not have flesh and bones as you see I have”’ Luke 24:36-39.

Notice that Jesus invites them to handle Him to prove He’s not a spirit! The Lord invited Doubting Thomas to handle Him as proof it was the self-same body that was nailed to the cross that was resurrected from the dead! In other words, though Christ is fully God He remains also fully Man.

John in 1 John 1:1 speaks of a Christ who remains a solid Man. ‘That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we have looked upon, which we have handled, concerning the Word of life’ 1 John 1:1.

In the Luke 24 passage notice one of the things that Jesus did to verify to His disciples that He wasn’t just some wispy apparition or manifestation. He invited them to handle Him and He also ate food in their presence. Luke 24:41b, “‘Have you any food here?” So they gave Him a piece of broiled fish and some honeycomb. And He took it and ate in their presence’ Luke 24:41b.

Calvin comments on this verse,

'During the whole course of His life, He had subjected Himself to the necessity of eating and drinking; and now, though relieved from that necessity, He eats for the purpose of convincing His disciples of the certainty of His resurrection.'

Jesus, to Calvin, is as solid as a rock after His resurrection as He was before He was dead and raised. In other words, Calvin held that Jesus, as to His humanity, could only be in one place at a time.

Now, some people have the notion that the resurrected Jesus put His humanity aside from time to time to take on different forms. For example, Mark in Mark 16:12 says that, ‘He appeared in another form to two of them as they walked and went into the country.’

Letting Scripture interpret Scripture Calvin uses Luke 24:16 to interpret the meaning of this verse. Speaking of the two men on the road to Emmaus Luke in Luke 24:16 says, ‘But their eyes were restrained, so that they did not know Him.’

So, Calvin commenting on Luke 24:16 and Mark 16:12 says,

'The Evangelist expressly states this, lest any one should think that the aspect of Christ’s body was changed, and that the features of His countenance were different from what they had formerly been. For though Christ remained like Himself, He was not recognized, because the eyes of the beholders were held; and this takes away all suspicion of a phantom or false imagination.'

As the bread and the wine remain bread and wine throughout the Lord’s Supper, so Christ remains fully human after His resurrection. Now, to be sure, the resurrected Christ has taken on qualities that He didn’t have before. Calvin has already alluded to the fact that Jesus no longer needs to eat to sustain His physicality. However, glorification is a far cry from Jesus morphing from one shape to another.

Calvin commenting on Luke 24:28 says, 'Christ for the time threw a veil over the eyes of those with whom He was conversing, so that He had assumed a different character, and was regarded by them all as an ordinary stranger.'

So, just as beauty is in the eyes of the beholder, so it was the eyes of the beholders that were prevented from recognizing Jesus. In other words, Jesus wasn’t changing His shape or form, rather it was their eyes that were prevented from recognizing Jesus. For we see in Luke 24:31, ‘For their eyes were opened and they knew Him; and He vanished from their sight.'

Calvin is consistent when he comments on this verse, saying,

'By these words, we are taught that there was not in Christ any metamorphosis, or variety of forms, by which He might impose on the eyes of men, but that, on the contrary, the eyes of the beholders were mistaken, because they were covered; just as, shortly afterwards, He vanished from the eyes of those very persons, not because His body was in itself invisible, but because God, by withdrawing their rigor, blunted their acuteness.'

It was the same when Mary did not recognize the resurrected Saviour where it says in John 20:14b that she ‘Saw Jesus standing there, and did not know that it was Jesus.’

Commenting on this verse Calvin says,

'It may be asked, Whence arose this mistake, that Mary does not recognize Jesus, with whom she must have been intimately acquainted? Some think that He appeared in a different form, but I think that the fault lay rather in the eyes of the women, as Luke (Luke 24:16) says of the two disciples, their eyes were withheld from knowing him. We will not say, therefore, that Christ was continually assuming new shapes, but that it is in the power of God, who gave eyes to men, to lessen their sharpness of vision whenever He thinks proper, that seeing they may not see.
'In Mary we have an example of the mistakes into which the human mind frequently falls. Though Christ presents Himself to our view, yet we imagine that He assumes various shapes, so that our senses conceive of any thing rather than of the true Christ; for not only are our powers of understanding liable to be deceived, but they are also bewitched by the world and by Satan, that they may have no perception of the truth.'

And finally, perhaps the passage of Scripture used most by those who believe in a Transubstantiated and Consubstantiated Jesus is found in John 20. It’s the issue of resurrected Jesus appearing in the midst of His disciples while the doors were shut. Again, we’ll let the great Reformer answer this,

'We ought to believe that Christ did not enter without a miracle, in order to give a demonstration of his Divinity, by which He might stimulate the attention of His disciples; and yet I am far from admitting the truth of what the Papists assert, that the body of Christ passed through the shut doors.
'Their reason for maintaining this is, for the purpose of proving not only that the glorious body of Christ resembled a spirit, but that it was infinite, and could not be confined to any one place. But the words convey no such meaning; for the Evangelist does not say that He entered through the shut doors, but that He suddenly stood in the midst of His disciples, though the doors had been shut, and had not been opened to Him by the hand of man.
'We know that Peter (Acts 10:10) went out of a prison which was locked; and must we, therefore, say that he passed through the midst of the iron and of the planks? Away, then, with that childish trifling, which contains nothing solid, and brings along with it many absurdities! Let us be satisfied with knowing that Christ intended, by a remarkable miracle, to confirm His disciples in their belief of His resurrection.'

Lutheranism and Romanism teach that Christ’s humanity is absorbed by His divinity. But Calvin, in line with Scripture, does not allow this. Calvin, as we’ve seen, will not allow Christ’s humanity to alter, not even for a split second, in order for Him to pass through closed doors!

In the Lord’s Supper where Jesus says, ‘This is My body,’ He doesn’t mean that He transforms His body into a piece of bread. Nor is He suggesting that He is able to walk though solid walls and doors bodily! For this is to confuse the two natures of Christ. It is to ascribe divine attributes to His humanity! Therefore Christ’s physical body is not ubiquitous.

Our Lord is in Heaven bodily. Yes, as God He is omnipresent, but as a Man He remains in Heaven. Yes, the bread and wine in the Lord’s Supper are symbols, but they are more than symbols. They are the means by which we spiritually feed on Christ’s flesh and blood through faith. In the Lord’s Supper the Holy Spirit lifts the believer’s heart so that the believer’s faith may feed on our Lord’s flesh and blood in Heaven.

Monday, October 18, 2010


(The following has been excerpted from my e-book "On the Lord's Table")

Most of you will be familiar with the Star Trek TV show. There have been a few spin-off programs and a few movies made. Star Trek has perhaps done more to advance the Theory of Evolution in the minds of people, than anything taught in secularistic school! If it is assumed that life evolved on earth then it's logical to assume it might evolve elsewhere in the universe! Hence all the weird and wonderful alien life forms on Star Trek. But I'm not wanting to talk about a TV program. I’d rather talk about Jesus Christ.

What does Star Trek have to do with Jesus Christ? Well, in Star Trek Captain Kirk and Mr. Spock got to walk through solid walls. I believe: “Beam me up, Scotty!” were the words they used in order to do it. Many, Christians today believe the Bible teaches that Jesus walked through walls.

Do the Scriptures really teach that Jesus walked through walls? Some of you may be thinking: Does it really matter? Well, these and other questions will be what we're seeking to answer in the following.

When you think of Jesus, what do you have in mind? Do you think of Jesus as God, and therefore as God He is able to do anything God can do, even walk through solid objects? Jesus is God and as God He can do anything God can do. However, we must not forget that Jesus is also a Man. He is One Divine Person with two distinct natures forever. He is the Son of God, the Second or Middle Person in the Trinity. But, at the same time He is also the Son of Man, the Second Man, ie, the Last Adam. He is the eternal Word become flesh. Jesus then, while at the same time being God, is also a Man. To be sure He is no ordinary man, but He is fully man – a real human being. As God He can do everything God can. But, and here’s the rub, as a man He can only do what a man can!

Now then, a spirit can walk through solid walls, but a man cannot walk through solid walls. As God Jesus is indeed everywhere, and in every room even at the same time. But as a Man Jesus is restricted – restricted to the confines of His own skin. When someone gives us a fright, we might say: “I nearly jumped out of my skin!” But truth be known, it's impossible for a human being to jump out of his skin.

Some people think it’s funny to put down other people. I’ve even heard it said, “So and so? – He’s a waste of space!” The human body takes up space, not “space the final frontier”, but rather your body, my body, takes up space the size and shape of your body. The writers of Star Trek fully knew this when they came up with the “beam me up!” scenario. “How can we transport a human being from point A to point B through solid objects? Let’s just scramble their body particles, beam them all elsewhere, then unscramble them!” But that’s impossible! “We know, but it’s only a TV show, you know, sci-fi, fantasy!

The trouble is that there are many millions of kids who have grown up who now think that some day men will really be able to pass through solid objects! “But!” I hear you say, “I know of a Man who can do that already! Jesus Christ! And some day, when I am resurrected I'll be able to walk through brick walls too! For doesn’t the Bible say that then I will be 'like Him?'” Is this what you have in mind? Well, is this what the Bible really teaches? Is it all just a question of mind over matter? Do you think the human Jesus could walk through a solid wall if He wanted to?

Was the resurrected Jesus just pure intellect, pure mind, and matter didn’t matter to Him? If you touched the resurrected Jesus would your hand simply pass through Him? If He touched you would His hand simply pass through you? Was the resurrected Jesus simply a spirit manifesting Himself for the sake of human eyes? “Jesus is God” I hear you say, “and as God He could make His hand pass through solid objects, even me, if He wanted! And He could be two places with His same body at once if He wanted! In fact He could be everywhere at once with His body if He wanted!”

Is this the kind of thinking going on in your mind? Do you think of the risen body of Jesus as ubiquitous? Do you think of His resurrected body as omnipresent? But can the human body of Jesus be everywhere at once? Can it be in more than one place at the same time? Is it really just a question of mind over matter for Jesus? If He wants to be in two places bodily at the same time it’s up to Him? If He wants to walk through solid walls bodily, then it’s up to Him? Can Jesus do with His body whatever He has a mind to? Do you think that matter doesn’t matter to Jesus?

These are serious questions. These questions impact on our understanding of Jesus. In fact, I would go as far as saying that these questions impact on our view of reality! I say this because all reality must be measured against Jesus Christ. It is Jesus Christ who gives meaning to all things. He is the measure of all things. The late Francis Schaeffer used to speak of true truth. Well, Jesus is real reality – not virtual reality, not just reality, but real reality! For the Scripture says, “All things were created through Him and for Him. And He is before all things, and in Him ALL things consist” Col. 1:16b&17.

If all things consist in Him, ie, if all things have their basis, their existence IN Him, then I must look to Him for understanding in all things. But what would happen if my understanding of Jesus Christ was extremely limited, or worse, erroneous? Well, that would impact my view of all things; which includes everything else in creation. If Jesus is the measuring-stick of all things, and your copy of the measuring stick is off, then your understanding of the nature of things will be off too.

We live in an age where people think it’s physically possible for men to walk bodily through solid walls. This view of reality has been widely propagated by certain sci-fi programs such as Star Trek, as mentioned. But, I’d like to let you in on something, it’s as Solomon says, “There’s nothing new under the sun!”

This is simply the past revisiting the present. And it all stems from a faulty or erroneous view of Jesus Christ. I believe, it has more to do with the Transubstantiated Jesus of Rome than the real Jesus of Scripture. Therefore, I for one do not believe that the Man Jesus can walk through solid walls! Hence, I don't believe that it was just a question of “mind over matter” for Him!

What’s the matter with all of this kind of thinking? What’s wrong with Jesus walking through solid walls? What’s wrong with His body being ubiquitous? What’s wrong with Jesus being bodily present in more than one place at once? Well, it’s to confuse the two natures of Christ, for a start. It’s to mix His humanity with His deity and vice versa. It’s to ascribe divine attributes to a man – even the Man Jesus Christ!

Only God can be everywhere at once! The devil is pretty good at certain things. But not even the devil can be in Scotland and Australia at the same time. Where is the Scriptural proof that not even spirits can personally be everywhere at once? A good example might be the time Daniel prayed for help but it was three weeks in coming. The angel said to him, “Your words were heard and I have come because of your words. But the prince in the kingdom of Persia withstood me twenty-one days; and behold, Michael, one of the chief princes, came to help me, for I had been left alone there with the kings of Persia” Daniel 10:12b&13.

So, here you have an angel, a spirit being, being hindered from moving from point A to point B. Therefore, not even a spirit can be two or more places at once. These words are recorded in Job 2:2, “And the LORD said to Satan, 'From where do you come?' So Satan answered the LORD and said, 'From walking to and fro on the earth, and from walking back and forth on it.”

The Devil might be faster than Speedy Gonzales, but nevertheless he still has to traverse the distance between point A and point B, ie, walk to and fro, back and forth. Only God alone, who is Spirit, is able to be everywhere at once. This is because he alone is God and omnipresence is one of His incommunicable attributes.

God is Creator and all other things are creatures. Angels are created beings, ie, creatures. Fallen angels, the devil, and all the demons are creatures. All human beings, even the human Jesus Christ is a creature! The body of Jesus was created and formed in the womb of the Virgin Mary – of her substance. His body was not pre-existent. It was made of the same substance as Mary and yours and mine. Yes, there is a vast difference between God as Creator, and angels and men. Only God is omnipresent because only God is God! Angels and men are not God.

This is where it starts to get a little bit tricky. God can “walk” through walls because He is omnipresent. Though you might not look at it as Him walking through walls, but God can be both outside and inside a locked room at the same time. What about an angel or a demon? Can an angel or a demon be both outside and inside a locked room at the same time? Well, we’ve already established the impossibility of this from Scripture. Angels and demons have to traverse the distance between point A and point B.

But may an angel or demon pass through a solid wall? We’d have to answer that in the affirmative. For example, the Bible speaks of demon-possession. Jesus commanded a legion of demons to come out of the demoniac and enter into a herd of pigs. In Mark 5:10 the demons begged Jesus earnestly that He not send them out of the country. Again, this proves that demons are anything but omnipresent. They could be sent out of the country, ie, from point A to point B!

Mark 5:12-13 says: “And all the demons begged Him, saying, ‘Send us to the swine, that we may enter them.’ And at once Jesus gave them permission. Then the unclean spirits went out and entered the swine (there were about two thousand.)” The rest of the story you know, but the point is that demons can enter men and leave men. They can even go into pigs! We conclude then, that spirit beings can walk through walls too. For, to enter or leave a man or a pig is to enter and leave through a solid object.

We have seen that God alone can be everywhere at once. And that He can, as it were, walk through solid walls. And we’ve seen that angels and demons, ie, spirit beings can also go through walls. However, unlike God, spirit beings are not personally omnipresent.

As we home in on the matter at hand. What about human beings? Can a human being walk through a solid wall? Well, most "Trekies", ie, followers of Star Trek, think so. They think it's just a matter of time before the technology to do this will arrive. But what about you? Do you think a human being is able to walk through a solid wall?

Is Jesus Christ a human being? You have to answer that, yes, otherwise you are “Docetic.” Docetic comes from the Greek word dokeo – to seem, appear. "Docetism" is an ancient heresy which the Church has already dealt with. Let me give you Henry Bettenson's definition of Docetism, “The assertion that Christ’s human body was a phantasm, and that His sufferings and death were mere appearance. ‘If He suffered He was not God; if He was God He did not suffer.’” Documents of the Christian Church, p.50.

Today’s so-called Jehovah’s Witnesses, for instance, are Docetic in their view of Christ’s resurrected body. Are you? They think that Jesus’ resurrection body was a phantasm. They teach that the resurrected body of Jesus can ooze through solid objects, such as tomb walls. So then, was Jesus’ resurrected body a human body? Or was it a phantasm? In other words, was Jesus’ resurrected body real, or was it phantom? Did His body disolve into gasses as the Watchtower Society of New York Inc. teaches?

Was the resurrected Jesus merely a manifestation of His spirit? – a mere phantasm, a ghost? Was He like those angels at His empty tomb who appeared to be, ie, seemed to be, men? Well, Luke answers these questions in his Gospel. In Luke 24:36 we see after His resurrection Jesus standing in the midst of His disciples. Luke 24:37 says, “But they were terrified and frightened, and supposed they had seen a spirit.”

Did you get that? His disciples are thinking that Jesus is a spirit. So what does Jesus do to demonstrate that He is NOT a spirit? What does He do to show them that He is indeed a human being, ie, the self-same human being who was nailed to the cross? In Luke 24:39 Jesus says to them, “Behold My hands and My feet, that it is I Myself. Handle Me and see, for a spirit does not have flesh and bones as you see I have.”

Here we have Jesus proving to His disciples that He is NOT a spirit. He even asked them for some food to prove that He was not a spirit. Luke 24:42-43, “So they gave Him a piece of a broiled fish and some honey-comb. And He took it and ate it in their presence.” So there you go! Jesus is a human being! He has flesh, and He has bones contained in that flesh. And He is able to chew food with His teeth and swallow it, just like other human beings. Therefore – and hold on to this – even spirits are limited in what they can do!

We have noted already that created spirits cannot be everywhere at once. But they can pass through solid objects – such as human beings, pigs, and presumably also brick walls. But here is Jesus proving that He is NOT a spirit. And, in proving that He is not a spirit, He is therefore proving that He cannot walk through solid walls! For, He is saying that a spirit does not have flesh and bones like Him. It is because a spirit does not have flesh and bones that it can pass through solid objects. It is because the spirit is immaterial that it can pass through material. But Jesus here is going to great lengths to prove that He IS material and NOT immaterial.

By way of proof He had His disciples handle Him, thus proving His body is as solid as theirs. And also the food He ate didn’t fall through Him to the ground when He put it in His mouth. They handled Him and He handled food. Their hands didn’t pass through Him, neither did His hands pass through the fish and honey-comb. We see then, that there are certain things a spirit cannot do. A spirit cannot have you handle him because a spirit is not made of flesh and bones. But the point being, Jesus wanted to reassure His disciples that it was really Him – with the self-same body He had before – who was present with them.

John, in his Gospel, tells us of two times that Jesus, after His resurrection, stood in a room full of His disciples, stood in their midst, when the doors of the room were shut (John 20:19, 26). In John 20:19 we’re told, “when the doors were shut Jesus came and stood in the midst.” And, in verse 26 we’re told, “Jesus came, the doors being shut, and stood in the midst.” The $64,000 question is, How did Jesus manage to come and stand in their midst? Is it necessary for us to jump to the conclusion that, because the doors were shut, that He walked through a solid door or wall to be with them?

It’s the same kind of thing with Him exiting the Tomb. Must He have walked through the stone walls? Is it necessary for us to jump to the conclusion that the body of Jesus somehow oozed through the grave clothes? And also, related, did the materially resurrected Jesus dematerialize inside the sealed tomb in order to rematerialize outside of it? Is it possible just to apply a bit of common sense, Scriptural sense, when looking at these things? Or have we all been watching too much Star Trek?

We are all I'm sure familiar with the saying, “All roads lead to Rome.” I’m afraid that a Jesus who walks through walls is too close to the Romish Mass for me! The Church of Rome teaches that the bread and wine in their Mass become the real and actual body and blood of Christ.

What does all this have to do with what we've been looking at? Well, let’s say a Roman Catholic priest in Scotland and a Roman Catholic priest in Australia both celebrate the Mass at the exact same time. Let’s say they both were in buildings with the doors and windows firmly shut. According to Rome, the closed doors wouldn’t stop Christ from bodily entering that room. In other words, the real and actual body and the real and actual blood of Christ would just suddenly appear in both those rooms simultaneously! For they believe that Christ was referring to His actual body at the Last Supper, when He said, “This is My body.”

To say that the bread and wine change into the body and blood of Christ is to go beyond Scripture. It is to confound and confuse the two natures of Christ. It is to mix them. For, it is to ascribe divine attributes, incommunicable attributes, to Christ’s humanity. The humanity of Christ cannot be in two places at once! Only God the Creator can be two or more places at once! Only God is Omnipresent. Only God is truly ubiquitous! Hold on to the fact that Omnipresence is one of God’s incommunicable attributes.

Secondly, only a spirit can “walk” through solid walls. Jesus, as we’ve seen, went to great lengths to prove He wasn’t a spirit but rather He was fully Man. Therefore, do you really think Jesus Christ would try to undo that by oozing through solid walls, to suddenly appear behind closed doors, even in the Romish Mass or elsewhere?

I think we all need to be very, very careful with this one! Christian orthodoxy has already condemned Docetism as the heresy it is. It seems to me that we are in danger of resurrecting it with a Jesus who walks through walls!

How do we answer the questions, How did Christ get out of His grave clothes? How did He enter the room with closed doors? Well, surely it wouldn’t be too hard for an angel, who is able to walk through walls, to unwrap the grave clothes and fold them up? Perhaps it was the same angel who rolled away the stone for Jesus so that He could walk through the open doorway the tomb!

How did Jesus appear in a room with closed doors? Keep in mind that there was a time, before His resurrection, that a bunch of people wanted to throw Jesus over a cliff. Luke 4:30 says, “Then passing through the midst of them, He went His way.” What prevented them from seeing Jesus so that He could just pass unnoticed through their midst? Jesus could have just as miraculously passed through the midst of His disciples as they all went into the room! Perhaps, for some reason, they just didn't see Him enter the room with them! He could have been in the room already but their eyes (like they eyes of those on the road to Emmaus), were withholding!

Jesus walked on water before His resurrection; but so did Peter! But you wouldn’t argue on account of this that Peter's body had special or divine qualities, would you? And, what about the floating axe head? Why then do some feel the need to ascribe divine attributes to Jesus’ body? Why is it that some folks wish to imagine Jesus walking bodily through solid walls and such like? Scripture nowhere explicitly says that He did this!

There’s much, much more that could be said and should be said about this. For, I fear the church nowadays is erring by mixing the two natures of Christ. But, I think we've been given enough to think about. I ask, What is your mind on this matter? Do you think that Jesus walks through solid walls? Or do you think we need to look at the Scriptures more carefully for the answer? I’m sure you’ll be happy to look further and deeper into this fascinating subject!

Monday, October 11, 2010


About to wax poetic about sailing a barque down the stream of life (this of course taking place while lost in the Canadian wilderness with a lonely loon’s haunting cry off in the distance), I had the presence of mind to check my dictionary for the definition of the word ‘barque.’ Up till now I held the idea that a barque was a canoe made of tree bark, North American Indian style. True, poets sometimes use the word to refer to any boat, but alas the technical meaning is that of a type of 19th century sailing boat. We live and learn!

When I was a young and unconverted man I attempted to hoist a sail to catch a fresh breeze in life. A change of tack seemed good! I thought that Canada couldn’t be any worse than Scotland. Having given up Loch Lomond for Lake Ontario I tried to sum up in song some of my thoughts: Destination? Destination unknown! I didn’t know where, I didn’t know where I was going. Just a lonely boy on a lonely road, with no highway code, and no map in my hand!

‘By faith Abraham obeyed when he was called to go out to the place which he would receive as an inheritance. And he went out, not knowing where he was going’ Hebrews 11:8. There’s poetry here, even a rhyme: ‘Not knowing where he was going.’ Mind you, prior to this Abraham had been met by the Chief Poet, the Supreme Wordsmith, the Word Himself, the Davar, the Logos, for, ‘The word of the LORD came to Abram in a vision, saying, “Do not be afraid, Abram. I am your shield, your exceedingly great reward”’ Genesis 15:1.

Abraham may not have known where he was going, but the pre-incarnate Christ walked with him. David, in the Shepherd Psalm, wrote, ‘Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil; for You are with me, Your rod and Your staff comfort me’ Psalm 23:4. The Angel of the LORD walked with Israel in her wilderness wanderings. He walked in the fiery furnace with Shadrach, Meshach and Abed-Nego. He walked with the men on the road to Emmaus. He met Saul on the road to Damascus. He met me in a basement in Winnipeg on the broad way that leads to destruction.

From before the beginning God has mapped out the journey His creation will take. We cannot escape. The word of the LORD had come to Jonah. He was to proclaim the good news to Nineveh, that God would spare them and their city if they would turn to Him in repentance. Jonah’s ‘barque’ disembarked as he attempted to sail away from his duty to God as a prophet. ‘But the LORD sent out a great wind on the sea, and there was a mighty tempest on the sea, so that the ship was about to be broken up’ Jonah 1:4. Crises grab people’s attention!

A crisis is an unplanned event. They take us off the map. Your bark canoe has been holed as you speed though the rapids toward Niagara Falls. Your paddle becomes the symbol of your weakness, an extension of your helplessness. The rising mist ahead grows more ominous as you try to peer into your fate. The roar of the hungry lion’s den grows ever louder. It wants to engulf you, to crush your bones before you reach the bottom of its den. The distant drums intensify in your breast as you look for an escape. There is nowhere to turn as you are being sucked into the great abyss. You cry for help. Nobody hears. You look to the shore. You look to the sky. You look to God and make a deal with Him – if He would only snatch you from the jaws of Leviathan.

You awaken on the shore. Soaking. Sobbing. Shivering. Safe. You wonder if it really was Christ who saved you. So you ask Him. Your tears of self-pity turn into tears of gratitude. You begin to follow Him as did Adam, Noah, Abraham, David, Daniel and all the rest before you. Thus you have been translated out of the kingdom of darkness and now live in the Kingdom of Light, the New World, a place off the map. Your old friends think you’ve become a bit strange. They don’t understand you. Your new friends are your brothers and sisters in Christ. They understand.

A whole new vista has opened up. The old way is behind. Before you lies the Promised Land. The good things you see and experience now are tokens of the bliss to come. The offspring and the land God promised to Abraham is symbolic of Christ. In Christ, like your father Abraham, you are now ‘the heir of the world’ (Rom. 4:13). ‘The meek shall inherit the earth, and shall delight themselves in the abundance of peace’ Psalm 37:11. You are now at peace with God. He has stilled the waves and the storm. He leads your barque beside still waters. He is your shield, your exceedingly great reward by grace through faith. Yes, God is found off the map in Christ. We learn and live!

Monday, October 4, 2010


(The following is a continuation of the previously posted "Covenant Formed" and "Covenant Broken." I'll continue adding to them and this and tweaking them as time allows...)

The Word became flesh to crush the Serpent's head and destroy death. The heart of the everlasting covenant or Gospel is Christ and Him crucified. The doing and dying of Christ is His work of fulfilling the triune God’s everlasting covenant. The Covenant of Works with Adam was the pre-Fall administration of the everlasting covenant as it applied on earth at that time. Christ came into the world as the new Adam to keep the Covenant of Works and thus destroy His elect’s covenant with death and Satan.

It was during the pre-Fall Covenant of Works administration of God’s everlasting covenant that Adam rebelled against God. This he did by uniting with Satan in covenant against God in whose image we were made. The defiant Adam broke his pre-Fall probation by eating the forbidden fruit. Thus Adam broke the condition of the Covenant of Works which was to love God and your neighbour as yourself.

It is important to note that Adam broke God’s Law, i.e., the Ten Commandments by eating the forbidden fruit. Yes, abstaining from eating the forbidden fruit was an outward commandment given verbally by the triune God to Adam. However, when Adam ate the forbidden fruit he was going against his nature. He was the image of God which (among other things) was that he had God’s Law written on his heart, i.e., internally. Thus the external commandment to not eat the forbidden fruit was a test to see if Adam would keep the internal commandments – that which God had written on mankind’s heart.

Paul speaks of these internal commandments as ‘the work of the Law written in their hearts’ Romans 2:15. To be sure, because the Ten Commandments (as we know them) presuppose sin, pre-Fall they would have been written in positive terms on man’s heart.

The Law written on man’s heart in the beginning (i.e., the Ten Commandments) would have been something like this: 1. Worship God exclusively. 2. Worship God spiritually. 3. Worship God sincerely. 4. Worship God as He will be worshipped. 5. Respect authority. 6. Respect the life and rights of others. 7. Be pure and loyal. 8. Be honest. 9. Be truthful. 10. Be happy and content. (see Francis Nigel Lee quoting Yost, The Covenantal Sabbath, p. 24).

Sin is the breaking of God’s Law. God’s Law is summarised in the Ten Commandments. These are summarised again in love God and your neighbour as yourself. Thus when Adam sinned he broke the law of the everlasting Covenant.

Scripture says that ‘the wages of sin is death’ Romans 3:23. This is the same death that God threatened Adam on pain of his breaking the Covenant of Works pre-Fall. ‘Of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you may not eat, for in the day that you eat of eat, you will surely die’ Genesis 2:17. Therefore to be a sinner is to be a covenant breaker under the covenant-penalty of death.

The devil and death figure prominently in the good news or the Gospel. ‘Inasmuch then as the children have partaken of flesh and blood, He Himself likewise shared in the same, that through death He might destroy him who had power of death, that is, the devil, and release those who through fear of death were all their lifetime subject to bondage’ Hebrews 2:14-15. Also, ‘Our Saviour Jesus Christ has abolished death and brought life and immortality to light through the gospel’ 2 Timothy 1:10.

The Gospel is synonymous with the Covenant of Grace. God began to reveal His Gospel or Covenant of Grace immediately after Adam sinned in the garden. Theologians refer to this as the protevangelium found in the following words, ‘The LORD God said to the serpent, “Because you have done this, you are cursed more than all cattle, and more than every beast of the field; on your belly you shall go, and you shall eat dust all the days of your life. And I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your seed and her Seed; He shall bruise your head, and you shall bruise His heel”’ Genesis 3:14-14.

The promised ‘Seed of the Woman’ is Christ (Galatians 3:16; 4:4). Every time we sin we are reminded of mankind’s covenant with the devil against God and God’s war with the devil and all who are in league with him. ‘He who sins is of the devil, for the devil has sinned from the beginning. For this purpose the Son of God was manifested, that He might destroy the works of the devil’ 1 John 3:8.

The pre-Fall Adam was on probation. He broke his probation and sided with the devil against God. Jesus is the replacement Adam. The devil tried to tempt Him to side with him by promising Him ‘all the kingdoms of the world and their glory.’ There was a condition to this satanic covenant. The devil said to Him, ‘All these things I will give You if You will fall down and worship me’ Matthew 4:9.

Jesus perfectly kept God’s Law in the face of all kinds of adversity from the devil and his seed. His Law-keeping was done as representative of all who would believe in Him for salvation. He did what none of us could do because we belong to the human race – which is fallen and is therefore sinful in the eyes of God.

Jesus was without any sin of His own. However, God imputed our sin to Him and imputed His righteousness to us. 'The LORD has laid on Him the iniquity of us all' Isaiah 53:6b. And, ‘Righteousness shall be imputed to us who believe in Him who raised up Jesus our Lord from the dead, who was delivered up because of our offences, and was raised because of our justification’ Romans 4:24-25.

In summary, Jesus (as the last Adam or second Man) kept perfectly the Covenant of Works and also paid its penalty in full (which was death). Therefore the Father released Him from death as proof that His mission on earth was accomplished. His mission was to destroy the works of the devil, our covenant with the devil and with death. ‘The last enemy that will be destroyed is death’ 1 Corinthians 15:26.