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  • April 18, 2014 - God's Mission

    By Scott McChrystal
    "However, I consider my life worth nothing to me, if only I may finish the race and complete the task the Lord Jesus has given me — the task of testifying to the gospel of God's grace" (Acts 20:24, NIV). ...

     



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Connections: Ernest S. Williams
Apr. 20, 2014

Celebrating the Resurrection

Ernest S. Williams (1885-1981), the fifth general superintendent of the Assemblies of God, enjoyed the second-longest tenure, with 20 years in office from 1929-49. For years into his retirement, Williams continued to share his deep but accessible biblical knowledge with readers of the Pentecostal Evangel in the column Your Questions.

evangel readers: Can you explain the meaning of the title “Lord Jesus Christ”?

Ernest s. WILLIAMS: “Lord” means Sir, or Master. “Jesus” means the same as Joshua — Jehovah-Savior. “Christ” means Anointed One, or Messiah. It is the title of the Son of God, never the title of the Father or the Holy Ghost (2 Corinthians 13:14).

evangel: Jesus said to Peter in Luke 22:32, “When thou are converted, strengthen thy brethren.” Did this mean Peter was not saved at this time?

WILLIAMS: Before this time Peter was saved, since his name was written in heaven with the other disciples (Luke 10:20). But Jesus knew that in the darkness that would descend upon the disciples when He was taken and crucified, Peter would fail and even deny his Lord. Also, Jesus knew that though Peter would fail under pressure, yet he would still love Him. So when Jesus was risen from the grave, He sent word by the women to “tell his disciples and Peter, that he goeth before you into Galilee” (Mark 16:7 and Matthew 28:7). There Peter was converted, or turned again toward the Lord, and restored (John 21:15), and he was told how he must die for Jesus (John 21:18,19).

evangel: Do you think we should observe Easter when the name originally referred to a heathen goddess?

WILLIAMS: I am told that the term “Easter” can be traced from Eastre, the ancient Teutonic goddess of spring. In the Primitive Church the death and resurrection of Christ were celebrated in conjunction with the Jewish Passover, but the Nicene Council in A.D. 325 officially separated the Christian festival from the Passover by changing the date to make it correspond with the observance of the pagan carnival called “Easter.” Instead of honoring the goddess of spring, the people were taught to honor the resurrection of Christ on this occasion. On Good Friday we commemorate the fact that “Christ our Passover is sacrificed for us,” and on Easter we celebrate the glorious fact that “He is risen.” The goddess of spring is long forgotten; the term now denotes the celebration of the Resurrection.

evangel: Why did God require blood for our redemption?

WILLIAMS: Blood is required because “the life of the flesh is in the blood: and I have given it to you upon the altar to make an atonement for your souls” (Leviticus 17:11). The life of the substitute was given for the sinner. The same truth is found in the fact that the “Son of man came not to be ministered unto, but to minister, and to give his life a ransom for many” (Matthew 20:28). Man has the sentence of death upon him. “The soul that sinneth, it shall die” (Ezekiel 18:4). In making the atonement, taking our place as the curse for our sins, He has borne our condemnation, “for [God] hath made him to be sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in him” (2 Corinthians 5:21). Since He has purchased redemption for us we may be saved by believing on Him (Acts 16:31).

evangel: In Psalm 22:16 David says, “They pierced my hands and my feet.” Did David have his hands and his feet pierced and, if so, what was the occasion?

WILLIAMS: In this psalm, David was expressing in vivid terms his reaction to the mental and emotional sufferings he endured, but the Psalm goes completely beyond David in literal fulfillment. It is a prophecy concerning the crucifixion of Jesus. I know of no other Scripture which foretells so fully the sufferings of Christ. Then at verse 22 begins the account of the triumphs which followed Christ’s sufferings and death — the Resurrection side of the Atonement.

evangel: Do you interpret the statement, “With his stripes we are healed” (Isaiah 53:5), to mean physical or spiritual healing?

WILLIAMS: I believe it includes both. In Matthew 8:16,17 we are told that Jesus ministered physical healing to the multitudes in order to fulfill this prophecy of Isaiah 53:4 — “Surely he hath borne our griefs, and carried our sorrows.” Then, Peter applied this Isaiah passage to spiritual healing — the healing of the soul: “That we, being dead to sins, should live unto righteousness: by whose stripes ye were healed” (1 Peter 2:24). While provision is made for physical healing, that does not mean that we may now obtain immortal life. As yet, only our souls are redeemed. We are still a part of a groaning creation, awaiting the coming of Christ when our bodies will be redeemed. (See Romans 8:22,23.) As long as we remain in these bodies we may be victims of sickness, sorrow and death.

evangel: Since the Bible speaks against drinking blood, why did Jesus say, “Except ye eat the flesh of the Son of man, and drink his blood, ye have no life in you” (John 6:53)?

WILLIAMS: Jesus did not mean we should literally drink His blood or eat His flesh. He meant we must partake of the grace of salvation which He provides. This is shown by His explanation, “It is the spirit that quickeneth; the flesh profiteth nothing: the words that I speak unto you, they are spirit, and they are life” (John 6:63).

evangel: What is the meaning of Galatians 2:21 — “If righteousness come by the law, then Christ is dead in vain”? Is He not alive forevermore?

WILLIAMS: The wording of this verse in the King James Version is misleading. Moffatt translates it, “Christ’s death was useless.” Rotherham renders it, “Christ died without cause.” The Centenary Version reads, “Christ died for nothing.” The thought is that He died, not that He still is dead. The Bible clearly states that He is alive forevermore. Here Paul is saying that we obtain righteousness by faith in Him, but if we could have obtained righteousness by keeping the law Christ died in vain.

evangel: What is the sinner’s prayer?

WILLIAMS: The sinner’s prayer is not made up of words only, for prayer is more than words. It is the cry of the soul seeking peace with God. The prayer of the publican is a good example of this, “God be merciful to me a sinner” (Luke 18:13). When the repentant sinner prays in faith, God will answer and will forgive his sins through our Lord Jesus Christ.

evangel: What does “born again” (John 3:3) mean?

WILLIAMS: It means that the life of God is imparted to us by the Holy Ghost. “The Spirit itself beareth witness with our spirit, that we are the children of God” (Romans 8:16). This occurs at the time of our conversion, when we repent of our sin and accept Christ as our personal Savior.

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