Class Notes: 11/1/2015
Mark 16:15; Acts 1:8; The doctrine of witnessing part 26
In our study of the doctrine of witnessing Mark 16:15; Acts 1:8; we are examining the doctrines that undergird the gospel so that we can understand how and why it is God alone who made it possible for our so great salvation exclusively by grace through faith alone in Jesus Christ alone. Eph 2:8-9;
We are now in a study of the of the enabling power of God the Holy Spirit that functions as common and efficacious grace so that the unbeliever can understand the spiritual information that is contained in the Gospel and be saved because saving faith comes exclusively from God the Holy Spirit.
We have noted that this grace ministry or "help" is required because of mankind's spiritual brain death. At the point of Gospel hearing, the unbeliever is spiritually dead which means he has spiritual brain death. Spiritual brain death means he has no ability to comprehend spiritual things including the Gospel.
The reasons why the unbeliever is in a state of brain death regarding spiritual phenomena is because everyone born "in Adam" is in a state of total depravity, total separation from God, and total helplessness at birth.
Mankind is born dichotomous, which means he has a body and soul, but no human spirit. Therefore, he has no capacity to properly understand any spiritual information including the Gospel.
The dichotomous state of man is described in Jude 19, "These (unbelievers) are the ones who cause divisions. They are soulish (psuchikos) persons, not having a human spirit." Net note 88
The Greek adjective "psuchikos" is used to describe the dichotomous state of each one of us as unbelievers. It refers to the natural person as a soulish person.
So at birth, a human being has a body and a soul, but does not have a human spirit. 1Cor 2:14, The natural (soulish) person (dichotomous unbeliever in a state of real spiritual death) does not accept the things of the Spirit of God (the Gospel or Bible doctrine), for to him, they are foolishness (in his state of spiritual death). In fact, he is not able to acquire (spiritual) knowledge, because spiritual things are discerned in a spiritual manner."
A spiritual manner refers to having a human spirit and functioning under the teaching ministry of God the Holy Spirit.
The spiritual brain death of the unbeliever as a dichotomous being with an old sin nature makes perception of the Gospel totally impossible. Spiritual brain death is helpless to understand any phase of the Gospel.
Without a human spirit and the ministry of the Holy Spirit, the unbeliever is spiritually brain dead, which means he cannot comprehend the Gospel, even though he may otherwise be a genius.
Job 32:8; "It is the spirit of man (human spirit) and the Spirit of the Almighty that gives understanding."
Rom 8:16; "The Spirit Himself bears witness with our spirit that we are the children of God."
This means that only the believer in Jesus Christ is trichotomous, having a body, soul, and spirit, 1Thes 5:23; Philemon 25;
At the moment we personally believe in the Lord Jesus Christ, God the Holy Spirit creates a human spirit in us. The theological term for the creation of the human spirit is regeneration.
God the Father imputes eternal life to that human spirit (pneuma). We already have human life that was imputed to our soul at physical birth. The unbeliever in spiritual death has no human spirit. God the Holy Spirit therefore has to assist their spiritual perception under the function of grace.
That act of grace is the Holy Spirit functioning as a human spirit. Someone communicates the Gospel to someone who does not have a human spirit and the Holy Spirit acts as a human spirit for the perception of that doctrine in that person.
When that doctrine is perceived, it goes to the left lobe of the soul that is referred to as the "nous" in the Greek where the issue is understood. The issue that God the Holy Spirit brings into view is "He who believes on the Son shall have everlasting life; but he who does not believe shall not see life, but the wrath of God abides on him John 3:36;
At that point, God the Father issues the divine call that is an invitation to believe in Jesus Christ at that point the person's volition makes a decision to either to believe in Jesus Christ or reject Him.
John 3:18; "He who believes in Him is not condemned, but he who does not believe is condemned already because he has not believed in the name of the uniquely born Son of God."
Even when a person believes in Christ, he is still spiritually dead until God the Holy Spirit in efficacious grace takes the faith of the spiritually dead person and makes it effective for salvation.
Once a person dies physically without believing in Christ, the door of salvation is closed. Nothing remains for him but the Last Judgment. Because mankind is born physically alive and simultaneously spiritually dead, the only opportunity for salvation is during their physical life in time.
Common grace is the ministry of God the Holy Spirit in making the Gospel lucid and comprehensible, a functioning as a human spirit so that the information can be understood.
Heb 9:27-28; "Just as it is destined for mankind to die once (physical death), but after this (physical death) the judgment; so Christ also was sacrificed once for the purpose of taking away the sins of many."
John 3:18; "He who believes in him is not judged, but he who does not believe has been judged already because he does not believe in the name (person) of the unique Son of God."
Grace therefore begins before we are saved at the point of God consciousness and Gospel hearing. God the Holy Spirit's ministry to spiritually dead world also includes restraint on total depravity so that the human race does not destroy itself in moral or immoral degeneration.
The reaction of spiritual brain death to the Gospel is described as foolishness. 1Cor 1:18; "For the doctrine of the cross is, to those who are perishing, foolishness; but to us who are saved, it is the power of God."
The doctrine of the cross informs us that all personal sins in human history were reserved for when Jesus Christ was on the cross where the omnipotence of God the Father imputed those sins to Jesus Christ and justice of God the Father judged them in His body.
God's power is deployed first in common grace, where God the Holy Spirit uses His power to make the Gospel clear, lucid, understandable, and comprehensible.
That's why Paul says in Rom 1:16, "For I am not ashamed of the Gospel, for it is the power of God unto salvation, to everyone who believes (efficacious grace), to the Jew first, and also to the Greek (Gentile)."
The spiritual brain death of the unbeliever is also described in Rom 8:5-8; "For those who are according to the flesh set their minds on things of the flesh (spiritual brain death). But those who are according to the Spirit set their minds on the things of the Spirit.
v6 For the mindset of the flesh is death, but the mindset of the Spirit is life and prosperity.
v7 Because the mindset of the flesh is hostile toward God, for it does not subject itself to God's law because it is not able to do so (because of spiritual death). v8 Therefore, those in the flesh cannot please God.
"The mindset of the flesh is the spiritual brain death of spiritual death. There is nothing anyone can do to please God in spiritual death. This is why salvation is by faith alone in Christ alone.
Spiritual death is not only spiritual brain death, but total depravity, total separation from God, and total helplessness to do anything about it.
The result of brain death in the spiritually dead person is described in 2Cor 4:3-4; "And even if our Gospel is hidden (veiled), it is hidden to those who are lost (perishing),
v4 in whose case the god of this world (Satan) has blinded the minds of the unbelieving, that they might not see the light of the Gospel of the glory of Christ who is the image of God."
Other passages where God's Word tells us that satan is the god of this world include: John 12:31; John 14:30; John 16:11; and Eph 2:2;
Satan blinds the minds of unbelievers because they are spiritually dead. Spiritual death means brain death regarding spiritual truth including the Gospel.
In the function of common grace, the Holy Spirit acts as a human spirit so that the brain death of the spiritually dead may be enlightened on the subject of the Gospel.
In common grace, the unbeliever in spiritual death gives a non-meritorious listen to the Gospel, and God the Holy Spirit provides the rest. Listening is non-meritorious, though some may think it is a work The reality however a dead person cannot do any work so a spiritually dead person cannot do any spiritual work.
In the left lobe of the soul, the Holy Spirit filters out the inaccuracies in the Gospel presentation and emphasizes the accuracies; this is the ministry of common grace for all mankind.
Once understood, God the Father invites the unbeliever to believe in Christ, not by speaking personally, but through the understanding the issue in the Gospel. This is God the Father's call for the unbeliever to believe in Jesus Christ for salvation.
Only the ministry of God the Holy Spirit in common grace can overcome the handicap of the spiritual brain death of spiritual death. The spiritually dead person listens to the Gospel. Brain death is a barrier. He can't understand the Gospel apart from the ministry of the Holy Spirit.
In every case where the Gospel is presented with any degree of accuracy, the Holy Spirit makes the Gospel lucid, understandable, comprehensible, and meaningful.
Just as a living person cannot communicate with a dead person and visa versa, so living evangelists cannot cause the spiritually dead unbeliever who listens to the Gospel to understand it.
The only one who can is God the Holy Spirit, the sovereign executive of evangelism. He makes the Gospel message understandable by acting as a human spirit. As a result, the issue of the Gospel, "what do you think of Christ?" is comprehended.
Gen 6:3; is the first Biblical reference to the concept of common grace. Gen 6:3; "Then the Lord (God the Father) said, `My Spirit (Holy Spirit) shall not convince (convict) inside mankind indefinitely (God the Holy Spirit's work of common grace), for in his going astray (total depravity), he is also mortal. They will remain for 120 more years."
The Spirit's function in common grace is to convince. In this case it would be 120 years from the moment this was spoken until the flood that would result in the physical death of that entire generation minus Noah and his family. Those 120 years were their last opportunity for salvation.
The Holy Spirit would keep convicting them about salvation until the flood came; then they would all be drowned except those who believed. In this case was only Noah's family of eight people believed.
Salvation was provided before our Lord's physical death on the cross. This sets the pattern for salvation Based on this pattern there is no opportunity for salvation after physical death.
God the Holy Spirit convicted Noah's generation that the Gospel was true for another 120 years before the Flood came but all but Noah's family rejected it. For those who died their physical death terminated the convicting ministry of the Holy Spirit so the principle is that physical death is the last opportunity for making a decision to believe in Jesus Christ and be saved.
The mechanics for common grace during the Church Age are found in John 16:8-11; "And He (Holy Spirit), when He comes (Church Age), will convince the world (of unbelievers) concerning sin, righteousness, and judgment;
v9 concerning sin, because they do not believe in Me; v10 concerning righteousness, because I go to My Father and you no longer see Me; v11 concerning judgment, because the ruler of this world (Satan) has been judged.""
When He comes" is a prophecy of the ministry of the Holy Spirit as it functions during the course of Church Age. While the Holy Spirit's ministry of common grace functions in every dispensation, there is a new emphasis placed on the presentation of the Gospel.
Since Jesus Christ has been resurrected, has ascended, and is presently seated at the right hand of the Father all effective evangelism must line up with the concepts presented in this passage.
Since the salvation work of Jesus Christ has already occurred in the dispensation of the Hypostatic Union, the nature of the ministry of the Holy Spirit has a new emphasis.
The omnipotence of the Holy Spirit functions in common grace concerning sin, righteousness, and judgment.
Because of spiritual brain death in the spiritually dead person, he cannot properly understand these concepts apart from the teaching ministry of the Holy Spirit in common grace. John 16:9; "Concerning sin, because they do not believe in Me."
This tells us that the only sin that Jesus Christ was not judged for on the cross was His rejection. In the presentation of the Gospel, personal sin is not an issue because all personal sins were judged on the cross, 2Cor 5:14- 15,19; 1Tim 2:6; 1Tim 4:10; Titus 2:11; Heb 2:9; 2Pet 2:1; 1John 2:2;
Since Jesus Christ was judged for our sins as our substitute on the cross "sin" here specifically refers to one sin only: the refusal to believe in Jesus Christ as the Son of God.
Personal sin is not an issue, not even at the Last Judgment, because all sins in history were judged at the cross. Personal sin is an issue in total the depravity of spiritual death, but personal sin is never an issue in the Gospel.
Believers must always remember this when communicating the Gospel. People's personal sins are not an issue in salvation and they should never become and issue to those who are communicating the Gospel.
The issue in the Gospel is what our Lord said on the cross: "Tetelestai," the perfect active indicative of the Greek verb "teleo", that means "Finished in the past with the result that it stands finished forever."
Salvation is finished on the cross. A spiritually dead person is incapable of doing anything for salvation, or adding anything to the completed work of Christ. If anything is added to faith, then there is no salvation. This is why the issue is faith and faith alone in Jesus Christ.
The spiritual death of Jesus Christ on the cross satisfied all the righteous demands of God the Father. This is called propitiation.
The spiritual death of Jesus Christ on the cross is the basis for deliverance from the slave market of sin. This is called redemption.
The spiritual death of Jesus Christ on the cross is the basis for removing the barrier between God and man. This is called reconciliation.
The spiritual death of Jesus Christ on the cross is the basis for judgment of all personal sins in history. This is called unlimited atonement.
Condemnation at the Last Judgment is not based on personal sins, as so many evangelists teach. The sins of the unbeliever will never be mentioned at the Last Judgment because they were judged on the cross. Under the law of double jeopardy, they cannot be judged again at the second resurrection of unbelievers and the Last Judgment, called the Great White Throne Judgment.
Instead, what was not judged on the cross is the basis for the indictment of the unbeliever. There are two sets of books at the Last Judgment. The Lamb's Book of Life at the end of history is a registry of believers only. The unbeliever's name was blotted out of it when he died without believing in Christ.
The Book of Works list all the human good works the unbeliever did during their life. They all add up to (-R )or relative righteousness. Jesus Christ, sitting on the Great White Throne, is +R or absolute righteousness. -R cannot have fellowship with (+R). Therefore, the unbeliever is indicted because of failure to have (+R) and sentenced to the lake of fire.
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