15 Questions for Pentecostals, Jordan Wood, Part I

In a continuing series, The Believer’s Dilemma is examining the problematic theologies of Augustine, Luther and Calvin which were based on original sin. This week we have part I of an interview with Jordan Wood, Associate Pastor, South Shore Pentecostal Church.

 

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History:  The Pentecostal/Charismatic Movement began in Los Angeles in 1906 in a small church on Azusa Street. It was called the Pentecostal revival because, as on the original day of Pentecost, the Holy Spirit poured out on believers. The San Francisco earthquake and the great fire of 1906 occurred at the same time that Los Angeles was shaken and on fire with the Holy Spirit. The revival took on biblical dimensions of Last Days, the destruction of Babylon, and the onset of Armageddon.  A pre-millennial expectation of imminent End Times has been a hallmark of the Pentecostal/Charismatic movement ever since. 

 

The Azusa Street phenomenon lasted for three years.  Believers flocked from around America, and then from around the world, to witness extraordinary manifestations.  Unbelievers and journalists noted the hysteria: laughing, weeping, rolling on the floor and speaking in incomprehensible tongues. The Los Angeles Daily Times reported that ‘Whites and Blacks Mix in a Religious Frenzy’ while the Los Angeles Record warned ‘Holy Kickers Carry on Mad Orgies’. Pentecostal/Charismatics were ridiculed by conservatives who denounced the unseemly cacophony as demonic.

 

In 1906, many of the Pentecostals were underprivileged and poorly educated which made it easy for university trained Calvinist, Reformed, Presbyterian and Congregationalist ministers to ridicule them. Harvey Cox in Fire From Heaven (1994) writes, ‘If the mainline churches disliked the Pentecostals, it is not an exaggeration to say that the fundamentalists loathed them.’  Fundamentalists placed great importance on bible knowledge and doctrinal purity. Pentecostals made a virtue of their lack of book learning. Their slogan became ‘a man with experience is never at the mercy of a man with a doctrine.’

 

Pentecostals believe the Bible is the inerrant word of God which should be read literally unless specifically indicated.  Most Pentecostals date the Garden of Eden to 4,000 BC and identify the Fall of Adam and Eve with the origin of sin, suffering, evil and death. Pentecostals are pre-millennialists who believe in the imminent return of Jesus and a literal, future 1000 year resurrection of the dead.  Many Pentecostals share the views of Young Earth Creationists.

 

Position:  Pentecostals are socially conservative (many do not drink, smoke or dance), particularly on issues such as abortion and homosexuality.

 

Current situation:  In 2000, Pentecostal adherents were estimated to number around 115 million worldwide.  Because of rapid growth during the 20th century Pentecostalism is sometimes referred to as the "third force of Christianity", the first two being Catholicism and traditional Protestantism.

 

Note: Italicised texts are taken from the Pentecostal Statement of Fundamental and Essential Truths (SFET).

http://www.paoc.org/upload/files2/docs/Stmt%20of%20Essential%20and%20Fundamental%20Truths.pdf

 

1)   The Universe

 

 

Believers Dilemma: Does the universe exist for a purpose?

 

Jordan Wood:  Yes. Colossians 1:16 says, ‘For by him all things were created in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or powers or rulers or authorities; all things were created through him and for him.’  There are also references to creation in Psalms 33:6, John 1:3, 1 Corinthians 8:6 and Hebrews 1:2. Scripture repeats this idea that all creation was created BY God and FOR God. 

 

Believers Dilemma:  Did God reveal the process of creation to prophets in ancient times?

 

Jordan Wood: The Bible supports that Moses recorded the book of Genesis along with the other four books that make up the Pentateuch. Genesis 1 and 2 provide a framework for God’s work of creation, however I believe it is to be read from the perspective of Moses. In the same way that other prophets record details as they see them and as they receive them, I believe Moses, directed by the Holy Spirit, received the revelation of the creation account and recorded it as he received it.

 

Believers Dilemma:  Did Moses receive a word-for-word revelation, or did he see images that he described using his own words?

 

Jordan Wood: Personally, I can imagine Moses seeing images that he described in the words available to him.  In a similar way, John’s Revelation consists of visions that he described in the symbols available to him.

 

Believers Dilemma: Does the Bible offer insights into why God created the universe?

 

Jordan Wood:  The Bible does not claim to report exhaustively why God created such an incalculable expanse as the known universe and such intricate diversity.  However, these two extremes, the grandeur and the preciseness, speak greatly about the character of God. Therefore, God must be big enough to create the universe and yet delicate enough to nuance His creation with individual personality. The Book of Genesis shows the pattern of creation. Everything was created after its kind. Each kind was distinct.

 

Believers Dilemma:  You’re saying that ‘kinds’ were created distinctly and did not evolve?    

 

Jordan Wood:  Genesis records that God created after a kind, or pattern. He created trees and plants, after their kinds, and animals and birds, after their kinds, etc. In regards to evolution, I personally segment it into two levels, macro and micro. I believe that microevolution - meaning evolution within a given species - is observable scientifically in that you can take two dogs and breed a new mix of dog. I don’t believe, however, that there is any observable account of macroevolution, where one species evolves altogether into another, such as a dog becoming a bird. The fossil record doesn’t support such leaps.

 

Believers Dilemma:  Does the Bible reveal when the universe was created?

 

Jordan Wood:  The Bible does not provide a date of origin of the universe. I would be very skeptical of anyone claiming to know for certain, simply because how could it be measured in earth years? The Bible does record many dates and ages of individuals but doesn’t provide a timeline for the universe itself. 

 

Believers Dilemma:  Does you skepticism regarding dates apply more to science or Bible interpretation?

 

Jordan Wood:  I don’t find the evidence fully and conclusively supports dates of millions of years that some scientists claim. 

 

Believers Dilemma:  What about geological processes like tectonic shifting plates that caused entire continents to move and mountain ranges to be thrust into the air?  How does the Bible account for this kind of activity?

 

Jordan Wood:  The Bible does state that certain geological processes were different during the days of Noah and the cataclysmic Flood.  Genesis chapter 2 records that there was a time before the Flood when it did not yet rain on the earth, but a mist came from the ground and watered the surface of the earth. The first record of rain was at the time of Noah and thus represents a change in the earth’s processes.

 

Believers Dilemma:  One of the questions skeptics always ask about the Flood is, ‘How did Noah round up elephants from Africa, bears from North America, penguins from Antarctica, and kangaroos from Australia if he was living in the Middle East?’  Was continental drift, which moved the continents to their current locations, a recent consequence of the Flood rather than a process that occurred over millions of years?

 

Jordan Wood:  I wouldn’t say that there was no separation of the continents before the Flood.  If we take, for example, the Grand Canyon, there are theories that it was at one time under water. A great deluge visible today is seen in the erosion to the canyon walls, much like other under-water mountains.  These theories support the Biblical and other historical accounts of the Flood.

 

2)  Natural Evil 

 

Believer’s Dilemma:  If God is the source of all goodness, why is the natural world plagued with catastrophic events? 

 

Jordan Wood:  Pentecostals believe catastrophic events have their origins in the Biblical account of the Fall in Eden. (Genesis chapter 3) Mankind was given dominion over Creation. (Genesis 1:26, Psalm 8:6-8, James 3:7) The sin of Adam affected all that Adam had dominion over and this included the natural world. ‘Therefore just as sin came into the world through one man and death through sin, so death spread to all men because all sinned.’ (Romans 5:12) Sin damaged the natural order of the original creation which was without death. ‘The creation waits in eager expectation for the sons of God to be revealed. For the creation was subjected to frustration, not by its own choice, but by the will of the one who subjected it, in hope that the creation itself will be liberated from its bondage to decay and brought into the glorious freedom of the children of God. We know that the whole of creation has been groaning as in the pains of child birth right up to the present time.’  (Romans 8:19-22)  So creation’s reaction to the infection of sin and death are seen in the catastrophic events of the natural world.

 

Believers Dilemma:  You think of Eden as a literal Garden that was inhabited by a man named Adam and a woman named Eve?

 

Jordan Wood:  Yes. The name “Adam” comes from the Hebrew meaning “man”. “Eve” also from Hebrew means “life”.  Genesis 3:20 records that Adam named his wife “Eve”, because she was to be the mother of all mankind that would follow.

 

Believers Dilemma:  How far back in history would you locate the events that occurred in the Garden of Eden?

 

Jordan Wood:  I don’t cling to an exact date, nor do I believe an exact date changes the importance of the events. If I had to say, I believe the cradle of civilization began around 4,000 B.C. Historically, the ancient civilizations of Babylon, Sumer, etc. are all relative to that period and I believe this supports the Biblical record in regards to geolocation and time.

 

Believers Dilemma: The official date taught at the Pentecostal Bible School is 4,000 BC.

 

Jordan Wood:  I believe the date would be close to that.

 

Believers Dilemma:  Augustine traced all sin, suffering, evil and death to the ‘original sin’ of Adam and Eve. Do you believe there was no death in the world prior to 4,000 BC?

 

Jordan Wood:  The Bible records that death is the outworking of sin and that all forms of death find their origin in the Fall of man.

 

Believers Dilemma:  How would that pre-Fall world have been different? 

 

Jordan Wood:  It was a world without sin and without death. The natural conditions of the earth were created to sustain life indefinitely.

 

Believers Dilemma: How were those conditions different than what we see today?  

 

Jordan Wood:  The whole earth was covered by a ‘canopy’ of water, almost like an extra layer in the atmosphere, shielding the earth from any damage as a result of the sun’s rays and at the same time it produced a tropical environment throughout. 

 

Believers Dilemma: This canopy of water was a ‘solar screen’ that prevented physical deterioration and aging?

 

Jordan Wood:  From what I know of the theory, it did serve as a form of protection. This canopy, however, was emptied out during the flood.

 

Believers Dilemma: Those perfect conditions prior to the Flood enabled dinosaurs to flourish?  

 

Jordan Wood: Many species that could normally survive in tropical weather would suffer greatly if those perfect conditions were altered. Reptiles have no maximum size limit. As long as they continue to eat – and don’t get killed - they will continue to grow.  Cold-blooded animals would probably be the first to die off, and that would include overgrown reptiles like dinosaurs.

 

Believers Dilemma: Dinosaurs were still inhabiting the world until Eden, around 4,000 BC, and even as late as the flood, around 3,000 BC?  Humans and dinosaurs co-existed?

 

Jordan Wood:  I recall hearing something about fossilized human footprints together with dinosaur prints. Although I don’t draw any conclusion, I don’t exclude the possibility that humans and dinosaurs co-existed. I believe there is evidence for some very large reptiles even in our day such as the 49-foot python found in Indonesia, in 2004.

 

Believers Dilemma: If there was no death prior to Eden, those gigantic animals would have all been herbivores?

 

Jordan Wood:  Yes.

 

Believers Dilemma: Where can I find this information?

 

Jordan Wood:  A great resource for some of the theories presented can be found at  (http://www.creationtoday.org/) Kent Hovind has good materials as Dr Dino.  

 

Believers Dilemma: Ken Ham is another prominent Creation Science advocate.  He was responsible for the Creation Science Museum. (http://creationmuseum.org/)    A second major cause of death is natural disasters: hurricanes, drought, and famine. Would there have been no death caused by natural disasters prior to Eden?

 

Jordan Wood:  Some of the current natural disasters are caused by imbalances in global climate. None of the imbalances were in play prior to the accounts of the Flood, which impacted weather and climate.

 

Believers Dilemma:  You believe that no animal died from natural disasters or famine or disease prior to the events in Eden around 4,000 BC?

 

Jordan Wood:  We believe the Fall of Adam, was not just responsible for death in human kind but for all death in the world.

 

Believers Dilemma: This is hard to understand for people who believe that the universe is billions of years old and that animal fossils go back millions of years.  If Adam and Eve only lived a few thousand years ago, it doesn’t add up.

 

Jordan Wood:  I agree that there are many pieces to the puzzle and reconstruction of what actually took place comes down to theory at best. We can say, however, that under special conditions in the earth, like a global flood, a process a rapid-fossilization is possible, greatly reducing the normal amount of time it would take. We see evidence for this with fossils that are found in multiple layers of sediment.

 

Believers Dilemma: During the Renaissance, the Church got very angry at scientists like Copernicus and Galileo for saying that the planets revolved around the sun because the Bible said that sun moves around the earth.  The Church was wrong in its interpretation of the Bible. Most of the people I’ve spoken to in these interviews interpret the Creation stories of Genesis as myth or allegory.  The age of the universe or the death of dinosaurs millions of years ago make absolutely no difference to their faith. If the evidence were absolutely incontrovertible that death occurred long before 4,000 BC, how hard would it be for you to interpret the Bible differently?

 

Jordan Wood:  Pentecostals claim that the Bible is inerrant. Outside of the Bible I don’t see how anyone can fairly claim infallibility in terms of his or her interpretation. To answer your question; proving that death was in the world before sin would be a contradiction of what the Bible clearly teaches.

 

Believers Dilemma:  A lot of people have trouble understanding the Creationist point of view, which seems to be irreconcilable with science.  

 

Jordan Wood: I don’t believe that faith and science are irreconcilable. Humanity is just getting started with science and the more scientists find out, the more they realize there is so much more they don’t yet understand. Science tries to understand the natural world. It doesn’t account for anyone or anything outside of that order that may be interfering with it.

 

Believers Dilemma:  The nature of science is to test theories by trying to disprove them.   That is how errors are eliminated.

 

Jordan Wood:  I think it is equally important for Christians to go out and investigate theories and test them. Science and faith are not mutually exclusive but complementary. Science tries to provide an answer for how things work but the Bible answers the why question.

 

3)  Human Beings 

 

Believer’s Dilemma: This brings us to the next question - Do human beings exist for a purpose? After creating the stars and the planets, the seas and the fishes, the plants and the animals, why did God create human beings?

 

Jordan Wood: As was stated earlier, God created everything after it’s “kind”. The Bible says that God made man after His kind, in His image, and in His likeness. God gave man dominion over the creatures of the earth for the ultimate purposing of bringing himself Glory.  The created universe reveals certain attributes of God.  Romans 1:20 states, ‘God’s invisible qualities – his eternal power and divine nature – have been clearly perceived ever since the creation of the world in the things that have been made, so they are without excuse.’       

 

Believers Dilemma: What does ‘they are without excuse’ mean to you?

 

Jordan Wood:  The Bible speaks of two basic forms of revelation.  General revelation has to do with the created world. The mere fact that the world around us exists points to the existence of an all-powerful God of Creation. We are all witnesses of creation and therefore everyone partakes of this general revelation about who God is.

 

Believers Dilemma:  Most tribes and religions recognize a Creator God.

 

Jordan Wood:  I can’t really speak about what most tribes and religions believe, but I believe that this general revelation begs the question of how the world began. Romans 1:21 says, ‘For although they knew God, they neither glorified him as God nor gave thanks to him, but their thinking became futile and their foolish hearts were darkened.’  So it is possible to know that God exists with really knowing who God is.

 

Believers Dilemma: Does the universe become a source of condemnation for people who do not understand it properly? 

 

Jordan Wood:  Creation is not the source of misunderstanding but the source of the general revelation regarding God. I believe all of creation points to God, both the beauty of the natural world as well as the parts of creation that appear to be delinquent from God’s original perfect order.

 

 

4)  The Existence of Evil

 

Pentecostal Statement of Fundamental and Essential Truths 

Man was originally created in the image and likeness of God. He fell through sin and, as a consequence, incurred both spiritual and physical death.’ (SFET 5.4)  

 

Believers Dilemma: Why would an omnipotent God of perfect love and justice permit evil to enter the world?  

 

Jordan Wood:  We have to look at what evil and sin are.  We can understand them by thinking about light and darkness. There is no existing thing called darkness.  It is just a word we use to describe the absence of light.  The same is true of sin. The actual definition of ‘sin’ means missing the mark. Who’s mark?  It is God’s standard of holiness and goodness and righteousness. Anything that falls below God’s standard is sin. When we ask why would God allow evil and sin, it is a default allowance by God, because of love, to allow us to choose His standards or our own.

 

Believers Dilemma: If sin is being less than perfect, is it also evil?

 

Jordan Wood:  A person’s intentions are not always evil. For example, Eve thought the forbidden fruit looked good to eat and that it would make her wise.  Is food evil? No. Are wisdom or knowledge evil?  No. Eve was not seeking an end result of evil but of good. Sin was the result of disobeying what God had commanded regardless of good intentions.

 

Believers Dilemma:  Did freedom to choose make sin inevitable?

 

Jordan Wood:  God could have created robots that were programmed to be totally obedient, but he wanted to create beings with the freewill to choose.

 

 Believers Dilemma:  To choose between good and evil?

 

Jordan Wood: The choice isn’t really between good and evil. The choice is to choose to obey God or to disobey God.

 

Believers Dilemma: How would you define evil?

 

Jordan Wood:  Evil results from the thoughts, intentions, and actions that disregard God’s moral law.     

 

Believers Dilemma:  The Biblical accounts of Eden relate that Adam and Eve had a personal relationship to God. Why would they have deliberately chosen to disregard God’s moral law?    

 

Jordan Wood:  God is Spirit, and when Adam and Eve chose to sin they removed themselves from the fellowship of God’s manifest presence. God was omnipresent as always, but sin caused a loss of man’s connection to God’s presence.    

 

Believers Dilemma:  The story of Eden has been interpreted in many different ways to emphasise different parts of the story.  God left the Garden after warning Adam not to eat a particular fruit.  An oppositional force, which is often referred to as the devil or Satan, entered the garden and contradicted God’s warning, saying that the fruit would make the humans wise and that it would not cause them to die.  Why did God permit such a strong temptation?

 

Jordan Wood:  We have to remember that temptation alone is not sin. Jesus was also tempted by Satan yet he was without sin. Temptation is not rooted in evil per se.  It often has the appearance of something good or desirable.

 

Believers Dilemma:  The rebellion in Eden seems to depend on two things. The first is that an outside force contradicted God. The second is that God did not correct the misinformation. There are at least two points at which God could have intervened. Would the situation have occurred had God not been absent and had the serpent not been present?

 

Jordan Wood:  The serpent is one character in the story but God is sovereign over all. God uses the characters to his own purposes and his own ends. If it wasn’t the serpent, maybe God would have used something else. His obvious purpose in all of this was to allow Adam and Eve to make a choice whether or not to obey God’s command.

 

Believers Dilemma: Yes. The forbidden fruit was a test. Did God intend for the humans to fail the test?

 

Jordan Wood:   Here we get into a question of God’s will. God has a perfect will and a permissive will.  I’ll borrow from C.S. Lewis in taking the case of a nanny whose perfect will is for the children to keep the nursery clean and tidy.  While she goes downstairs to make some tea and biscuits the children throw their toys everywhere and so when she returns the room is in complete disorder. Even though her perfect will was for them to obey her command, her permissive will provided the opportunity to obey or disobey.

 

Believers Dilemma:  This situation in Eden was far more significant than children messing up a playroom.  It involved sin, evil, suffering and death.  It is hard to imagine God going off to make a cup of tea while Creation was being corrupted.    

 

Jordan Wood: Would it not be pointless if God’s plan was to allow mankind a choice but then turn around and hand-hold the process in such a way to make sure they chose a certain way? It’s like an evil dictator who holds an election but when you enter the booth there are men with guns overseeing your vote, making sure you tick the right box.

 

Believers Dilemma:  Would you agree that Adam and Eve were free to obey or disobey the commandment?

 

Jordan Wood: Yes. It was God‘s intention to allow them to have the choice but I don’t think it was ever God’s intention for Adam and Eve to rebel.  

 

Believers Dilemma:  The Bible says that God will never test anyone beyond what they can bear. (1 Corinthians 10:13).  What are we to make of this?  Does it not suggest that God intended them to use their freedom of choice?  Not because God wants rebellion, but because freewill requires a knowledge of good and evil.  We can’t choose good unless we have experienced evil.

 

Jordan Wood: I don’t believe obedience to God requires previous experience of disobedience.

 

Believers Dilemma:  All theologies based on ‘original sin’ make it sound like God was shocked by Eden, because his perfect creation was ruined.  The rebellion is made the cause of all sin, suffering, evil and death and God is still angry about it.  

 

Jordan Wood: I don’t believe God was shocked at all. I believe God’s plans were known to Him prior to creation. God’s foreknowledge of man’s choice however, doesn’t mean that man didn’t have the choice to make. The Bible teaches that we bring glory to God through our obedience. However, those who reject God and end up separated from God also bring glory to God indirectly.

 

Believers Dilemma:  How?

 

Jordan Wood: Because in both cases - those who receive God’s provision of grace and those who reject it - God’s righteous standard of justice is upheld.

 

Believers Dilemma:  Let’s follow that logic. God’s standard is perfect. We humans are imperfect. God could have prevented the Tempter from entering the Garden. God could have refuted the Tempter’s arguments. God could have placed a fence around the forbidden fruit.  But God did none of those things. Why did God permit sin, suffering, evil and death to enter the world?  

 

Jordan Wood:  God’s plan for salvation was established before the foundation of the world. So we can say that God’s foreknowledge and therefore His plan incorporated Adam’s sin.  But was it God’s perfect intention? God knew the weakness and strength of Adam and Eve. His divine assistance was given when He equipped them with His command and His Word. If they weren’t truly able to obey, it wasn’t really a choice. God’s intention was for them was to be obedient, not to rebel. Mankind consistently wants to negate responsibility for choices.

 

5)  The Conflicted Human Nature

 

Believers Dilemma:  Why does human nature appear to be a mixture of good and evil?  Is it because of freedom of will?  Corrupted will?  Total depravity?

 

Jordan Wood: There is a distinction between total depravity and utter depravity. Total depravity means that the heart of man is, by nature, sinful, affecting all that he is and does. Although we are totally depraved apart from being born again, we still can do good things. An atheist can still love his children, etc. Utter depravity means absolutely no capacity for doing good. Although externally, human nature appears to be a mixture of good and evil, the heart of man, at its core is depraved and is in need of regeneration.

 

Believers Dilemma:  As you said earlier, Eve sinned while trying to do something that was not in itself evil.  Total depravity does not mean that what we do is evil, or even that the intention behind it is evil; it means that it is done without regard for God.  It is the absence of obedience to God that makes it depravity. For Luther, the kindest, gentlest person in the world would be totally depraved if he were an atheist.  For Luther the Fallen human race was not totally evil, but it was in total bondage to sin. That is why everyone who is not saved from sin deserved eternal damnation.   

 

Jordan Wood: Total depravity doesn’t take away someone’s capacity to do good things. It simply means that the heart of man is, by nature, sinful, affecting all that he is and does.  

 

6)  Primitive People

 

Believers Dilemma: What form of religion was known to ancient cavemen?  

 

Jordan Wood:  I do not believe any human kind existed before Adam and Eve. Adam would have passed his knowledge down to people like Noah, whose father was Lamech because Adam was still alive for the first years of Lamech’s life.  

 

Note: Genesis 5:5 reports that Adam lived 930 years.

 

Believers Dilemma: It is convenient, theologically, to say there were no people before Adam and Eve.   

 

Jordan Wood: I recognize that it is appealingly simple to begin the human race with the story of Eden recorded in the Book of Genesis. But the fact is, that is what the Bible reveals.  So we are not choosing it because it is simple or convenient, but because that it what the Bible reveals.

 

Believers Dilemma:   All people right up until Noah received first-hand accounts of God and the Garden of Eden directly from Adam?

 

Jordan Wood:  Given the ages provided in Adam’s genealogy it was certainly possible to pass down first-hand knowledge of what Adam had experienced. Noah was part of the first generation that may not have heard it first-hand. After the flood, God restarted with Noah, his wife, his sons, and his son’s wives.

 

Believers Dilemma:  The people who were drowned were without excuse?

 

Jordan Wood: It was indeed possible for all of mankind to hear of Adam’s experiences as well as hear about the promise of a Saviour who would arise through the seed of the woman. The Bible records that the generation was only evil continually but that Noah found grace in the eyes of God.

 

Believers Dilemma:  The Gospel message from the very beginning was about the need for a Saviour?

 

Jordan Wood: Genesis 3:15 is called the proto-evangelion, the First Gospel. This is the first time in the Bible that records the promise of a coming Saviour that will be born of the seed of the woman and will crush the head of the serpent.    

 

7)  Laws and Commandments

 

Believers Dilemma:  How did a God of perfect justice reveal Laws and Commandments to all the peoples of the earth?  

 

Jordan Wood:  The Bible says, ‘Long ago, at many times and in many ways, God spoke to our fathers by the prophets, but in these last days he has spoken to us by his Son, whom he appointed the heir of all things, through whom also he created the world.’ (Hebrews 1:1-2)

 

Believers Dilemma:  What is the difference between recognizing a Creator God in the beauty and order of creation and specific knowledge of Jesus as Creator and Saviour?   

 

Jordan Wood:  Well, the similarities are that both speak of God who loves and cares and provides for His creation. They both point to a God who is all-powerful and at the same time all-loving.

 

Believers Dilemma:  In hindsight Christians can see Jesus in the descendant of Eve who will crush the serpent, and in prophecies throughout the Old Testament. Those things were not obvious to Israel or other ancient peoples. How many people, even today, read the story of the Noah’s Ark and see a revelation of the need for a personal Saviour?

 

Jordan Wood:  The Bible says, ‘And we have the prophetic word more fully confirmed, to which you will do well to pay attention as to a lamp shining in a dark place, until the day dawns and the morning star rises in your hearts, knowing this first of all, that no prophecy of Scripture comes from someone's own interpretation. For no prophecy was ever produced by the will of man, but men spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit.’ (2 Peter 1:19-21) All the accounts that have been recorded are for the benefit of all those who take them to heart and recognize their need of a Saviour.

 

8)  Reconciliation Via Laws and Commandments

 

Pentecostal Statement of Fundamental and Essential Truths 

Spiritual death and the depravity of human nature have been transmitted to the entire human race with the exception of the Man Christ Jesus. Man can be saved only through the atoning work of the Lord Jesus Christ.’  (SFET 5.4)

 

Believers Dilemma:  Did knowledge of laws and gospels save anyone?  We place a lot of importance on the revelations of the Bible and the proclamation of the need for a Saviour, but has perfect obedience to the laws ever guaranteed salvation?   

 

Jordan Wood:   Salvation has always been through Christ alone. ‘You search the Scriptures because you think that in them you have eternal life; and it is they that bear witness about me, yet you refuse to come to me that you may have life.’ (John 5:39-40 ESV)

 

Believers Dilemma:  Did the Jews bear salvation to all peoples or only to themselves?

 

Jordan Wood:  Salvation is from the Jews in the sense that the whole Old Testament, which taught about salvation through Christ alone, was from the Jewish people, and the Messiah himself came from the Jews.  Jesus eternally existed as the Son of God, but was born into the world a Jew.

 

Believers Dilemma:  Other tribes worshipped a Creator God, to the best of their knowledge.  If specific knowledge was transmitted from Adam to Noah, then all of those descendant peoples would have shared it.

 

Jordan Wood:  The Law was given so that those who heard it would recognize their need of a Saviour.  Obedience is an expression of our faith. It is not the cause of salvation. It is the reverse. We are not saved by obeying the Law.  Because we believe, we obey.  

 

Believers Dilemma:  Can non-Christians obey the Law?

 

Jordan Wood: The Bible says, “What shall we say, then? That Gentiles who did not pursue righteousness have attained it, that is, a righteousness that is by faith; but that Israel who pursued a law that would lead to righteousness did not succeed in reaching that law. Why? Because they did not pursue it by faith, but as if it were based on works. They have stumbled over the stumbling stone.’ (Romans 9:30-32)  Anyone can obey the Law, however by the works of the Law, no flesh will be justified. Obedience to the Law doesn’t remove the requirement of a Saviour.

 

9) Salvation

 

Pentecostal Statement of Fundamental and Essential Truths

‘Salvation has been provided for all men through the sacrifice of Christ upon the cross. It is the only perfect redemption and substitution atonement for all the sins of the world, both original and actual. His atoning work has been proven by His resurrection from the dead. Those who repent and believe in Christ are born again of the Holy Spirit and receive eternal life. (SFET 5.5.1) 

Man can be born again only through faith in Christ. Repentance, a vital part of believing, is a complete change of mind wrought by the Holy Spirit, turning a person to God from sin. (SFET 5.5.2) 

Justification is a judicial act of God by which the sinner is declared righteous solely on the basis of his acceptance of Christ as Saviour.’  (SFET 5.5.4) 

 

Believers Dilemma:  What is required for salvation to occur?   The Pentecostal Statement of Fundamental and Essential Truths says, Man can be born again only through faith in Christ.’ Is it that simple? 

 

Jordan Wood: Salvation is Jesus plus nothing. Salvation is not Jesus plus anything.  It is faith in Jesus alone. When he died on the cross, the work of salvation was done. It was fully completed. There is nothing that can be added to it on our part. Jesus paid the full price for our salvation. That is the finished work of the cross.

 

Believers Dilemma:  As you know, that is a problem for people who follow non-Christian religions.

 

Jordan Wood:  I had a pleasant conversation last week with a Muslim gentleman who asked, ‘What do you have to do to be saved?’  I answered, ‘You need to believe in Jesus.’  He said, ‘Well I believe in Jesus. So am I saved?’ I said, ‘No. Because it is not enough to believe he is Lord.  The saved are those who make him Lord.’ Jesus said, ‘It is not just those who call me Lord who are saved, but those who do the will of my Father.’ (Matthew 7:21) The devil knows that Jesus is Lord. But the devil doesn’t make Jesus Lord. He is not bound for heaven.  “You believe that God is one; you do well. Even the demons believe—and shudder!” (James 2:19)

 

Believers Dilemma:  Within Evangelical and Pentecostal circles, you will hear lots of different views about true salvation. The mainline churches are not considered to be ‘born again’ and so they are not really saved. They might believe that Jesus is Lord but they don’t make him Lord. The traditional Protestant position of Luther and Calvin is that Catholics are not saved. I’ve heard quite a few Pentecostals lament that their Catholic family and friends are not saved. So is it possible to be Christian but not saved?  

 

Jordan Wood:  I believe it’s possible that in every denomination - mainline, Reformed and Pentecostal - there are those who are truly saved and those who are not. Salvation isn’t a result of the name on the sign outside the church. I believe there are many Catholics who are indeed saved.

 

Believers Dilemma:  There is a difference between saying that all churches are a mixture of sheep and goats versus saying that Pentecostals are good sheep, while Catholics are bad goats.

 

Jordan Wood: I’ve heard people say that, but I wouldn’t make that kind of generalization.  There are probably people from every denomination who have a genuine faith. But there are some people who say they believe in a Jesus who is not the Jesus of the Bible and they are not truly part of the church.

 

Believers Dilemma:  For example?

 

Jordan Wood: Jehovah’s Witnesses and Mormons are examples of groups of people who claim they believe the Bible but their doctrine of who Jesus is, and the work He accomplished, there is sufficient discrepancy for biblical disqualification.

 

10) Who is Saved? 

 

Believer’s Dilemma:   Who is saved?

 

Jordan Wood: Those who by faith have received the gift of Salvation by putting their trust in the person and work of Jesus Christ, for the forgiveness of their sins and for the regeneration of their hearts.

 

Believers Dilemma:  You said earlier that someone can believe in Jesus, but not the Jesus of the Bible, and so not be saved.  And someone can believe in the Jesus of the Bible and attend a born-again church, but not have genuine faith and so not be saved. What about non-Christian faiths such as Judaism, Buddhism or Islam?  Is it possible for them to be saved?   

 

Jordan Wood: Jesus clearly said, ‘No one comes to the father except through me.’ (John 14:6) That is an exclusive statement. It is also not the only statement that states unless you believe that Jesus is the Saviour, you will perish. (John 3:16-18) The Bible is clear that Jesus is the only way to heaven. That may be inconvenient or offensive for people, but many truths are inconvenient.  Truth by definition is exclusive; it is either true or it is not true. It is not both.

 

Believers Dilemma:  Many people will never hear about Jesus during this life.  Is it possible for them to know Jesus after this life?

 

Jordan Wood: the Bible says,“And just as it is appointed for man to die once, and after that comes judgment, so Christ, having been offered once to bear the sins of many, will appear a second time, not to deal with sin but to save those who are eagerly waiting for him.” (Hebrews 9:27-28)  The Bible doesn’t speak of any second chance or any other way to be saved.  

 

Believers Dilemma:  Then multitudes will be condemned because they worshipped the wrong God, not because they are evil?

 

Jordan Wood:  I understand that problematic.  Is Jesus is the only way? Yes he is.  Is this uncomfortable? Yes, but I need to go along with what the Bible says. I can’t pick and choose parts of the Bible I like and parts I don’t like. The book of Romans basically says that the general revelation is enough to condemn but not enough to save.

 

Believers Dilemma:  Would you consider that Adam and Eve were saved?

 

Jordan Wood:  Yes.

 

Believers Dilemma: On what basis?

 

Jordan Wood:  On the same basis that anyone is saved; faith in the person and work of Jesus Christ. What we look to in the past, they simply looked to in the future.

 

Believers Dilemma: You believe that Adam and Eve had a full understanding of the person and work of Jesus Christ?

 

Jordan Wood:  I believe so.  

 

Believers Dilemma:  Do you believe that Moses, Abraham and David were saved because they had faith in a future Messiah and Saviour? 

 

Jordan Wood:  Yes.

 

Believers Dilemma:  If nothing has changed, why are modern Jews not saved by having faith in a future Messiah and Saviour? 

 

Jordan Wood:  The result of not being saved is the same for everyone who rejects Jesus Christ. “Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only Son of God.” (John 3:18)  

 

Believers Dilemma:  Paul said that all of Israel will be saved. (Romans 11:26)  That seems to include modern Jews as well as ancient Jews.    

 

Jordan Wood: Not all descendents of Israel are Israel.  The Bible says, ‘But it is not as though the word of God has failed. For not all who are descended from Israel belong to Israel, and not all are children of Abraham because they are his offspring, but “Through Isaac shall your offspring be named.” This means that it is not the children of the flesh who are the children of God, but the children of the promise are counted as offspring.’ (Romans 9:6-8)

 

Believers Dilemma:  How do you understand that distinction between children of the flesh and children of the promise?  

 

Jordan Wood:  It is like the visible and invisible Church.  The Book of Revelation says, ‘These people claim to be Jews and they’re not. They’re the synagogue of Satan.’  (Revelation 2:9)

 

Believers Dilemma:  Do see hope of salvation for non-Christians?

 

Jordan Wood:  It is God’s honest desire that everyone receive Jesus Christ as their Lord and Saviour. There is indeed a living hope. His name is Jesus.  When I travelled to Mexico, I visited Chichen Itza, the site of the Mayan temples. The guide began to tell us about the ancient Mayan religion and their god named Kukulkan, the Feathered Serpent from the Heavens.  The guide told me, ‘He is the serpent God from the air.’ I thought, ‘Where have I heard that before?’ Then the guide said, ‘Kukulkan came down and taught the early Mayans about astrology and how to make weapons and fight wars.’ I thought, ‘Where have I heard that before? I recalled the apocryphal book of Enoch. There have been many false gods and false religions, demons posing as gods and the peoples creating religions from their interactions. 

 

Believers Dilemma:  Were entire nations condemned for worshipping the false gods they had inherited?

 

Jordan Wood:  Condemnation is the result of the rejection of the truth. The Bible says, ‘And this is the judgment: the light has come into the world, and people loved the darkness rather than the light because their works were evil.’ (John 3:19)

 

Believers Dilemma:  How would a Mayan have found Jesus?

 

Jordan Wood: It is possible for God to reach out to those who seek him, anywhere and anytime.  For example, there are many reports of people in from other religions and far away nations who seek God and receive a personal revelation from Jesus Christ.

 

Believers Dilemma:   They have to convert to Christianity to be saved?

 

Jordan Wood: Yes. Salvation is the result of professing Christ. For some former Muslims have had to give their lives for their profession.

 

Believers Dilemma:   Are unconverted Muslims without hope?

 

Jordan Wood: Anyone outside of faith in the person and work of Jesus Christ is without hope.

 

Believers Dilemma:  Quite a few Christians, including Franklin Graham, have made that same statement. It makes the Gospel message sound like condemnation rather than salvation.    

 

Jordan Wood:  I’m at peace with the tension. We work within the confines of the Gospel. God is a righteous Judge and I leave all judgment to Him. I don’t claim - with absolute certainty - to know how God will judge someone who is a sincere truth seeker in ancient times who never heard of Jesus. My primary concern is that people in our world today have heard of Jesus. I leave the unknown to God and concern myself with what is clearly revealed in the Bible.

 

Believers Dilemma:  Many non-Christians sincerely believe that the religion they follow was received from God. 

 

Jordan Wood:  Sincerity is not enough. You can be sincerely wrong and end up in Hell. John says that God seeks those who will worship in Spirit and in Truth. (John 4:24) The Bible says Jesus is the only way. I preach that truth. I’d give my life for that.  But in the end, who’s saved and not saved is up to God and not me.

 

Questions or Comments?

 

Tags: Kent Hovind, Dr Dino, Ken Ham, Creation Science Museum, Franklin Graham, Chichen Itza, Kukulkan.     

 

For part II of this interview withJordan Wood click here.

 

11) Does divine love and justice ensure that salvation is available to all? 

12) What role does human freewill play in salvation? 

13) How does salvation bring an end to sin, suffering and death?  

14) Does supernatural power intervene in the natural world to answer prayer? 

15) What is the eternal state?