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apologist john whitcomb

John Whitcomb is a prolific Christian teacher, apologist and former Old Testament Professor whose materials and resources we have shared in the past on our blog.  In light of the holiday season he has several Christmas devotionals related to Christ’s birth.  Below is one of them that his ministry has allowed us to post on our page.

Sermons by the Greatest ‘Christmas Prophet’

By DR. JOHN C. WHITCOMB
President, Whitcomb Ministries, Inc.

The prophet Isaiah was surely the greatest “Christmas Prophet” of the Old Testament. Let us briefly consider two of his most famous Christmas sermons.

Isaiah Chapter 7

One of the great marvels surrounding Jesus’ birth was the fact of His virgin conception.

But how could a virgin be with child and bear a son? Luke explains: “The Holy Spirit will come upon you [Mary], and the power of the Highest will overshadow you; therefore, also, that Holy One who is to be born will be called the Son of God” (Luke 1:35). Was this impossible? No, “For with God nothing will be impossible” (Luke 1:37).

Not only was it not impossible, it was predicted 700 years before by Isaiah. He received the message that Christ, the Messiah, would be one Person with two natures – divine and human.

At a time of great crisis for Israel, the house of David was given a great promise. “Then he said, ‘Hear now, O house of David! Is it a small thing for you to weary men, but will you weary my God also? Therefore the Lord Himself will give you a sign: Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a Son [i.e., fully human], and shall call His name Immanuel [i.e., “God with us,” fully divine]’” (Isa. 7:13, 14). In the very next chapter, the prophet is told that the God of Israel is “Immanuel” (Isa. 8:8; cf. v. 10).

Notice that God told Israel that He would give them a great sign. The coming of the Messiah/Christ would be so great that “the depth” of Sheol or “the height” of heaven could not compare (Isa. 7:11.)! That is a measure of God’s love for the world.

Our Lord Jesus Christ is called Immanuel. What does that mean? It means that Jesus is not merely a man – He is also God. Otherwise, He could not have paid for all of our sins on the cross. What a Person, and what a gift!

Without Immanuel, Israel could never have survived. To all of her enemies, God said:

“Take counsel together, but it will come to nothing;
Speak the word, but it will not stand,
For God is with us [Hebrew, “Immanuel”]” (Isa. 8:10).

That is still true for Israel today.

Sadly, Ahaz, the ancient king of Israel, refused to believe in Immanuel, the Savior. And when He finally came, the vast majority of Jews rejected Him – and still do. But someday soon, thank God, the nation of Israel will acknowledge Him, and will “be grafted into their own olive tree” (Rom. 11:24) of divine blessing. God is merciful!

Isaiah Chapter 9

The dual nature of our Savior was also revealed to Isaiah in Isaiah 9:6:

“For unto us a Child is born [i.e., human nature],
Unto us a Son is given [i.e., divine nature];
And the government will be upon His shoulder.
And His name will be called
Wonderful, Counselor, Mighty God,
Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.”

Where would Jesus, the Light of the world, perform His first miracle? “In Galilee of the Gentiles” (Isa. 9:1; cf. John 2:11) – despised by Judean Jews! Thus, Nathaniel asked Philip, “Can anything good come out of Nazareth?” (John 1:46). But Isaiah had long since written:

‘The people who walked in darkness [i.e., Galileans]
Have seen a great light;
Those who dwelt in the land of the shadow of death,
Upon them a light has shined” (Isa. 9:2).

Who was this great Light?

“Unto us a Child is born [His true human nature],
Unto us a Son is given [His divine nature]” (Isa. 9:6).

The Second Person of the eternal Godhead – Who added a sinless human nature to His divine nature – is now and forever one Person with two distinct natures, in order that He, Jesus Christ, might be able to die for our sins.

Does Christ truly possess the qualities that would be essential to be our Savior? God, the Holy Spirit, who is the ultimate author of the Bible (cf. 2 Pet. 1:21), lists His qualifications:

“And His name will be called
Wonderful, Counselor, Mighty God,
Everlasting Father [see Isa. 63:16], Prince of Peace” (Isa. 9:6).

What more could sinful humanity ask for?

The Lord Jesus is not only our Savior, He is also our coming King. Yes,

‘The government [of the entire world] will be upon His shoulder” (Isa. 9:6).

He will rule the world all by Himself? Yes!

“For the LORD is our Judge [i.e., Supreme Court],
The LORD is our Lawgiver [i.e., Congress],
The LORD is our King [i.e., executive branch];
He will save us” (Isa. 33:22).

When our Savior becomes our King, He will be so forever!

“Of the increase of His government and peace
There will be no end” (Isa. 9:7a).

For He will,

“Order it and establish it with judgment and justice
From that time forward, even forever” (Isa. 9:7b).

But how can this occur? May all mankind hear the answer:

“The zeal of the Lord of hosts will perform this” (Isa. 9:7c).

Merry Christmas! May you be blessed this day by the hearing of the great “Christmas Prophet.” He reminds us that, indeed, God’s Word is true from the beginning to the end.

Copyright © 2013 by Whitcomb Ministries, Inc.

Scripture taken from the New King James Version®.
Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Us

discussion evangelism

 

It seems to be important that when we evangelize and engage in apologetics to communicate as clearly as possible the concepts of Christian truth or the reasoning for our defense and refutation.  Thus, apologetics illustration seems to be important in the apologist’s toolbox.

The following are twenty apologetics illustration I’ve thought might be helpful that I’ve written up on over the years.

I’ve tried to include illustrations also touching on facets of Presuppositional apologetics as taught by Cornelius Van Til.

Apologetics Sermon Illustration # 20: Torching A Safe Full of Fire Works and Self-Destructive Arguments

I’ve heard earlier this year that Southern Evangelical Seminary’s Apologetics conference featured a discussion between Richard Howe, Jason Lisle, and K.Scott Oliphint on the issue of Presuppositional apologetics and Youth Earth Creationism.

The video is now online.

I have yet to see it and for those that have already, what are your thoughts?

The Scriptures Testify About Me

Purchase: Westminster | Amazon

This book is based upon the national conference for the Gospel Coalition in 2011 in which the topic was on how to preach Jesus and the Gospel from the Old Testament. I purchased this book because of the name D.A. Carson, who was the editor; I also wanted to see how other preachers expound on Jesus from the Old Testament. The quality of each chapter was mixed—depending upon the contributor. The two chapters that stood out were the first and the last one. Al Mohler begins the book by laying the foundation concerning studying the Scriptures and finding Jesus. Mohler’s chapter was basically an exposition of John 5:31-47. D.A. Carson wrote the last chapter on Melchizedek in Psalm 110 and he did a superb job of illuminating our understanding of Jesus fulfilling in Psalm 110 in light of antecedent theology and later revelation in the book of Hebrews. I thought Carson’s contribution was a good example of an exposition on the Old Testament pointing towards Jesus with careful biblical theology. It is an example for other pastors and teachers to emulate. Personally, the weakest chapter in the book was by James MacDonald. MacDonald’s treatment on Psalm 25 seems to me to be more of a running commentary; even then I felt I learned more about MacDonald but not necessarily of how Psalm 25 bears witness to Jesus. Some of the chapters I think some of the preachers could have done a better job connecting the dot to Jesus. I was expecting the book to have more emphasis on the Messianic prophecies in the Old Testament pointing towards Jesus. Overall an edifying read.

Fire-Engine-Sink-Hole

These are 4 Presuppositional apologetics Links between November 21st-30th, 2013.

1.) Critique of Arminian Apologetics

2.)Penn and Theism

3.) A Review of “Darwin’s Doubt” by Stephen Meyer

4.) How to Refute Chic Academic Defenses of Irrationality

Three years ago I posted .

In light of the fact that Black Friday was yesterday I thought I add a few more books to that lists of books I recommend if you are looking for gifts for those who are curious about Presuppositional apologetics or getting more into it.  Of course, if it’s someone who is intensely into Van Til’s apologetics, it doesn’t hurt to ask whether or not they have it already.

Here are a few that I think I can recommend with links to my review:

1.) Christian Apologetics by Dr. Cornelius Van Til

Christian Apologetics

Note: For some reason I really enjoyed the format of this book more than Van Til’s Defending the Faith.

Purchase: Westminster | Amazon

2.) Pushing the Antithesis

Pushing the Antithesis

Note: Found this helpful for apologetics discipleship with the format though not without concern (see comment section of the review).

Purchase: Westminster | Amazon

3.) Persuasion

Persuasions A Dream of Reason Meeting Unbelief Wilson

Note: Good sketches of what apologetics and evangelism conversation with a Van Tillian bent looks like with different folks.

Purchase: Amazon

4.) 

Schaeffer on the Christian Life

Note: This spiritual biography is authored by a professor of apologetics at Westminster Theological Seminary.  A good devotional and spiritual read for an apologist, to keep one’s life spiritually balance and not just “head knowledge.”

Purchase: Westminster | Amazon

5.) 

Unfolding Mystery Edmund Clowney

Note: 25th Anniversary edition.  I think it’s important for Presuppositionalists to also really know their Scriptures and their Old Testament Messianic prophecies pointing towards Jesus Christ.  If one claims to be driven by Scripture in apologetics (where the Word sets the framework for apologetics) I think it’s also important to know how the Old Testament prophesied about Jesus as the Messiah.

Purchase: Westminster | Amazon

Persuasions A Dream of Reason Meeting Unbelief Wilson

Purchase: Amazon

Good sketches of what apologetics dialogue from a VanTillian perspective might look like with various kinds of people. I believe we need more books like this that illustrate what apologetics dialogue practically look like. If you enjoy Doug Wilson’s other work you will likely enjoy this one too with his wit and wordsmith ability. Somewhat like C.S. Lewis’ Screwtape Letters and Bunyan’s Pilgrim’s Progress, this is a semi-allegorical “vision” of “Evangelists” talking to various kinds of people about the Gospel. For instance, “Evangelist” talks to a feminist, atheist and a New Age follower. I particularly enjoyed “Evangelist’s” discussion with the Reverend Howe, a theologically liberal Minister offended at the Evangelist ‘ignorance’ of modern scholarship. With the evolutionist it was standard Presuppositional argument against a materialistic chance driven worldview. Wilson presents several good illustration for one’s own apologetics encounter; for instance, in regards to the hypocrisy objection against Christianity, Wilson gave the illustration of whether someone still use currency even if there are counterfeit ones out there. Wilson also note how only things that are valuable will be counterfeited since no one makes counterfeit brown paper bag. Surprisingly, Wilson also have a chapter on Evangelist discussion with someone who denies Lordship salvation and is a believer. Here Wilson makes a good point that Lordship does not depend our work but our Work depend upon the objective Lordship of Christ and he further illustrates this truth with the analogy of his fatherly authority over son despite his son’s sin, but it’s also because of Wilson’s fathering his son that give him the authority to discipline his son (70-71). If I am not mistaken this is one of Wilson’s first published work—or at least first published work in Christian apologetics. One can see the growth of Wilson’s apologetics over time. Nevertheless it is a good book that provide sketches of apologetics dialogue.

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