PETER RUCKMAN ERRS FROM SCRIPTURE
STAUNCHLY ARGUES THAT CHRIST COULD HAVE SINNED:
BIBLICAL TRUTH STATES OTHERWISE
Dr. Peter Ruckman is a well-known author/writer within Fundamentalist circles and a staunch defender of the KJB. While the F.D. editor does not concur with Ruckman’s views that the KJB has “advanced” revelation [God’s inspired revelation ceased with the conclusion of the book of Revelation!], he concurs with Ruckman that the KJV is the preserved Word of God in the English language.
However, in a recent article he penned entitled “The Doctrine of Peccability,” (B.B.B., Jan. 2011, pp. 7-8, 10, Ruckman errantly alleges that Christ could have sinned, while degradingly maligning anyone who disagrees with him as “apostates,” “dumb Christians,” and “stupid.”
Ruckman states: “Now when these apostates say Jesus Christ couldn’t have committed sin, what they actually mean is that He had no desire (i.e., ‘lust’) that could be appealed to in order to make the decision to commit the act….the problem lies at the debate state and when it comes to that Christ certainly could have sinned… .He [Christ] could have chosen his own will if we wanted to have it more than the Father’s.”
Ruckman further claims that “Jesus Christ’s ability to accept or reject what God had for Him was based on free will that had to do with two separate wills which could have been against each other without Him doing anything.” For the following reasons, this writer believes that Ruckman erred against the Scripture in making such allegations.
Christ’s Human Nature was Totally HOLY, being Produced by the HOLY Spirit, the Third Person in the Triune Godhead. Christ was thus Incapable [impeccable] of Sinning. Christ was not Tempted to Prove that he Could Sin, but to Prove that He Could NOT Sin!
Now the theological terms here are IMPECCABILITY (incapability to sin) and PECCABILITY (capability to sin). The writer has in front of him a three page copy of an undated magazine article that I. M. Haldeman penned many decades ago entitled [Haldeman was the pastor of the First Baptist Church, New York City, for almost 50 years] “Could our Lord Have Sinned?” The following excerpt completely deflates Ruckman’s argument for Christ’s supposed peccability.
I. M. HALDEMAN’S COMMENTS ON LUKE 1:35
“The Scripture gives no warrant for the teaching that our Lord might have sinned. The illustrations from Satan and Adam cannot come into court. Satan was a created angel. Adam was not the [only] begotten Son of God, but a creation of God. Our Lord Jesus Christ was not a created man. He was begotten of God from the seed of woman by and through the Holy Ghost.
That which was begotten was not a person, but a nature—a human nature. This human nature was holy. Scripture calls it ‘that holy thing’ [Luke 1:35]. It was the holiness produced by and out of God. It was, therefore, in its quality the holiness of God. Since its quality was the holiness of God, there was no sin in it, and no possible tendence [tendency] to sin. This holy, sinless, human nature was indissolubly joined to the eternal personality of the Son.
His human nature could not have sinned without the consent of His unique personality; that personality would have to say, ‘I will’ to sin. Since the personality of our Lord Jesus Christ is the personality of God, it was impossible for that personality to consent to sin.
Since His personality could not consent to sin, it was impossible for Him in His human nature (seeing that human nature was inseparably joined to His personality) to have sinned. What then was the meaning of His temptation? There ought to be no difficulty in answering. The first man was tested as the head of the race and failed. Our Lord was tested and tried as the second man—not to see whether there was any tendence [tendency] of sin in Him, but to bring out the supreme fact that there was no sin in him and no possibility of failure.
The process of temptation demonstrated that sin had no place in Him. He was not only impeccable God but impeccable man.”
W. E. BEST’S REMARKS ON CHRIST AND HIS HOLY NATURE
In his book The Impeccable Christ, W. E. Best says: “The point of view that Christ could sin is designated by the idea of peccability, and the fact that He could not sin is expressed by the term impeccability. To suggest the capability of sinning would disqualify Christ as Savior, for a peccable Christ would mean a peccable God.”
“Holiness is far more than the absence of sin. It is positive virtue. The advocates of peccability say, ‘Christ could have sinned, but He did not.’ to say that He could have sinned is to deny positive holiness. To deny positive holiness, therefore is to deny the holy character of God. Holiness is positive virtue which has neither room for nor interest in sin.
The Lord Jesus could not sin because the days of His flesh meant only addition of experience, not variation of character. Holy human was united to Deity in one indivisible person—the impeccable Christ. Jesus Christ cannot have more holiness because He is perfectly holy; He cannot have less holiness because He is unchangingly holy.”
Another Bible preacher states: “The human nature of Christ
had no separate existence apart from union with the divine nature
of the one person of Christ. Immediately the human nature was conceived
in the Virgin’s womb it was indissolubly linked with the divine nature.
The human nature never had and never could have a separate existence…
.The two natures in Christ are not mingled
nor confounded together, but in His one person are united eternally,
yet remain distinct. Christ is not man defied or God humanized. He
is impeccable God and impeccable
Temptation is Solicitation to Evil. Solicitation to Evil can come from Within or from Without a Person. Christ’s Solicitation came from WITHOUT Himself
In the Baptist Bulletin, May 2001, the former editor of that publication, Norman Olsen wrote an excellent article entitled “Jesus—Could Have He Sinned?” In that article Olsen states: “When we think of being tempted, we logically think of how we are tempted—from within. We are sinners by nature; we are characterized by the reality of indwelling sin. Thus our flesh wants us to respond, to yield, to something or anything that will gratify it. This yielding is sin.
With our own characteristics in mind, we could easily get the ideal that Jesus was tempted from within (as we are) except that somehow He managed not to yield. But this scenario is not the case. Christ does not, and never did, possess a sin nature. Passages such as John 1:1,2 and 1:14 and Hebrews 1:8-10, 7:24-28, 9:24 and 13:8 teach that Christ—both in His preincarnate state and in His incarnation—was and is God, the very manifestation of righteousness. So Christ’s temptation was a testing from without…”
“Eve yielded, Christ didn’t. Why this difference? The answer is obvious. Eve was a human, in contrast to Christ who is God. Christ’s temptation in the wilderness proved beyond doubt Who Christ was and is, nothing, no matter how fierce, could make it possible for Him to give in and sin. With Christ, unlike Adam and Eve, there was nothing from within to cause sin to occur. Satan could only throw external things at Jesus. And Jesus used his infinite power to resist him each time.”
The Impossibility of Christ’s Sinning [Impeccability] does not Mean that the Temptations were not Real or that He was not Subject to Sinless Desires and Sinless Infirmities of His Human Flesh
Dr. R. A. Torrey’s Remarks
Dr. R. A. Torrey, who was one of Fundamentalism’s most noted Bible teachers in another generation made the following remarks concerning Christ’s temptations in an article in the Kings Business, Apr. 1917, in his article titled “Light on Puzzling Passages and Problems”: “The fact that our Lord could not sin does not make the temptation any less real. Temptations come from appetites and desires which are perfectly proper in their place.
For example, take the Lord’s first temptation. He had been without food for forty days. He was hungry, one of the hungriest men that ever lived, and so the temptation to get something to eat was very real, and therefore it was a real testing. But not for one moment, even in thought, did our Lord yield to the suggestion of gratifying his perfectly legitimate proper appetite…
No, Jesus was not only holy as God man, He was holy as man. In his human character, he was absolutely holy, and therefore could not sin. In His human nature, which was an absolutely holy nature, He could not sin, irrespective of the fact that He was also divine.”
Another Voice Reiterates the Truth
This writer does not concur with
all of Dr. Ian Paisley’s theological tenets, However,
I take a piece of gold. I know that it is gold. How can I prove that is gold? I give it the fire test. Now, the fire does not make it gold; it demonstrates that it is gold. It was gold before it was ever tested. The fire proved it to be what it already was.
Now the temptation did not make Christ sinless. He did not attain to sinlessness by resisting the devil and by doing the Father’s will. The temptation proved Him to be what He already was—Jesus Christ was not able to sin, Hallelujah! He was sinless before He was ever tempted!”
This writer believes that Emery H. Bancroft was right when he wrote in his book Elemental Theology, “Christ possessed no moral limitations which were due to sin or which involved the possibility of sinning.”
Editor’s note: Having believed that he has adequately answered this question, yours truly will not pursue this matter further via correspondence. Individuals who disagree with him may send him their alternative views and this editor will respectfully read and ponder them if those arguments are written with civility, but he will invest his tune dealing with other resoluble issues.
|February - March 2011 The Fundamentalist Digest; Permission granted for reprint, so long as proper credit is given. The above item is a sample of the numerous timely articles that are contained in the bi-monthly issues of The Fundamentalist Digest.|