Coffee, Theology and Jesus

working out our messy faith over coffee

Author: Rob

Love: It’s a thing of the past!

“A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another.  By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.”

~John 13:34-35

 

Christ preempted a problem plaguing our local churches today by about 2000 years. Love.  I don’t mean that husbands are forsaking their wives and children are going through life never feeling appreciated (those these issues could also be addressed).  The love I am talking about is what Christ spoke to His disciples about.  Christian love.  This is something that even in the past days has been on my heart heavily.

 

I will be the first to admit that my life is not an overflowing cup of love for everyone I come across.  That is to my own shame.  Christ is still working out the pieces of rock in this lump of clay as I am shaped into His image.  But I feel that there is a severe lack of true Christian love.

Let me give you an example.  This is a personal example and it is half of what really got me thinking about this topic.  I don’t think I am alone in saying that the Christian life is hard.  One of the hardest things about it is true, unchanging, consistency.  We have our own flesh against us, we have the world against us, and we have the devil against us.  All three of which, probably have completely controlled our lives at one point or another.  Now, we have a new master but those other three are still all seeking the throne.  So, I will say I struggle with consistency in my life.  One thing I’ve never struggled with was being convicted about sin when I’ve messed up and desiring to get back on the right track and enjoying the amazing fellowship with God when He restores me.  Even when we are struggling with things in life, and maybe we are headed down the wrong path, something inside a Christian is never right and a true Christian will never be happy and will always have remorse and eventually come back.  I really believe that.  When I have been to my lowest points, and actually really enjoying myself, yes I was having a lot of fun, but at the cost of my relationship with God.  Inside? I was miserable.  I wanted to give everything up and run back to God.  That is the mark of a true Christian.  The innate desire for God.  Always.  Now, there was a lady that I respected, older than I.  And it got back to me recently some things she said about me.  I will summarize, “Rob is just on a spiritual high.  He goes through spiritual waves of highs and lows.  Right now he is on a spiritual high and he will crash soon.”  Hearing those words hurt immensely.  Why?  Because this was a woman that I actually respected and looked up to.  I have lost much of my respect for her now but I learned a lesson.  How is my love?  I’ve had to look over my actions of the past and see that not all of my decisions were based on love for others.  What have I done to help out my fellow believers, just because I had a deep love for them.  Look at the local church in Jerusalem in Acts 2:41-47.  Verses 44 and 45 just show what this church’s motivation was: love for each other.  What an example.  I’m sure old brother Scott wasn’t there looking at a younger brother Carl and saying “well I’ve seen Carl and he goes through waves of being spiritual… right now he is doing well but just give it a little bit and he will crash again.”  I bet Scott was doing everything he could to make sure Carl didn’t crash again.  Is that how I am?  Do I look at my fellow Christian and judge them or do I come along side of them and encourage, strengthen, motivate, and love them?

Love is where it all begins.  And, where it all ends.  What does Paul say in 1 Corinthians 13 (the great love chapter)?

“So now faith, hope, and love abide, these three; but the greatest of these is love.”

It all starts with each of us.  I have to just work on myself and how I can love.  It doesn’t matter to me what anyone else is doing or saying.  It doesn’t matter to me what anyone else is living for.  My Savior said that other people shall know I am His by my love.  So I think its about time I did a love check.  I think it’s about time to heal up wounds I’ve created in others in the past.  Where is the love?  Christ.  Let’s pour that out.  Especially to believers, and then to the entire world.

Sin… Suffering… Savior – Rob

This is something that I have actually been tossing around in my mind for some time. I am no scholar and would love input on my thoughts as well. Perhaps I am in fact incorrect in my thinking.
These thoughts were originally brought about after multiple discussions I have had with some strong Calvinists. The “L” in the T.U.L.I.P. acronym most would know as “Limited atonement.” This would teach that Christ only died for the sins of the “elect.” Obviously if Christ only suffered for their sins then it would in fact be impossible for anyone else to be saved. I think this stems from a misunderstanding of sin, Christ, and the work of salvation.

Sin- at its core sin is the disobedience of the commandment of God. Some of the definitions:

  • Transgression: an overstepping of the law
  • Iniquity: an act inherently wrong
  • Error: a departure from right
  • Missing the Mark: a failure to meet the divine standard
  • Trespass: the intrusion of self-will into the sphere of divine authority
  • Lawlessness: spiritual anarchy
  • Unbelief: an insult to the divine veracity

Sin originated with Satan (Isaiah 14:12-14), entered the world through Adam (Romans 5:12), and is universal (except for only Christ).

Scofield gives a summary of sin as threefold: An act, the violation of obedience to the revealed will of God; a state, absence of righteousness; a nature, enmity toward God.

In the garden the commandment was to not eat of the fruit of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. Adam, who up to his point had no sin, was given that choice and a free-will to obey or disregard the commandment of the Lord. When Adam chose to disobey, the entire human race fell as a result because he was the “head” of the created world. Now, Adam knew good and evil (which goes against the T of Total depravity). The sinful nature was born and plagues every human because of the fall of man. The result being seen in Romans 5:12. Sin is a problem which the human mind cannot fully comprehend. Sin has separated God from His creation and must have righteous judgment by the very nature of the God of eternity. A misunderstanding of the severity and depths of sin is the start of the misconstrued ideology behind the death of Christ. Sin has affected the entire creation, which will all be redeemed as seen in Revelations.

Christ- the divine, transcendent, eternal Son of God, who was manifested into a human body. A misconstrued idea of Christ would cause a huge error in the understanding of the death of Christ. I do not, and cannot, completely comprehend how God can become a man (hypostatic union), but it doesn’t change the fact that Christ was and is God. The transcendent nature of Christ is vital to begin to understand His death/suffering. How can there be an infinite payment of sin in a finite amount of time? Because of the transcendent nature of God. Outside of our realm and our understanding the God of the Bible dwells. That is the Christ of whom we read “took upon him the form of a man” and “God sending His own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh”. A transcendent, eternal, supernatural God in the body of a man.  I have found myself wondering about Hebrews 4:15 often; how Christ was “was in all points tempted like as [we are, yet] without sin.”  I think the English language doesn’t do justice in times like this.  Temptation has the negative connotation about it.  I believe the word in Hebrews 4:15 would be better translated as “tried.”  Why are we tempted? Because our sinful nature is appealed by the sin surrounding us.  Ever notice that the moment you stop enjoying God like you should, you stop reading as much as you were, get lazy about your prayer life, and stop having good community with fellow Christians that sin is much more enticing?  I have! This is because the sinful nature inside of me is enticed by sin and when I am not battling that nature/desire it becomes stronger.  Was Christ then ever “tempted?”  I would say no, because He did not have a sinful nature that was enticed by sin.  He understood sin at the deepest level and was utterly disgusted by it.  However, He was tried by the same things we are.  For instance, women still walked in front of His eyes, those certain magazines were still on the shelf at the Wawa in Israel, and the internet was still full of those pages in 20 A.D.  This things all still were in front of Christ and “trying” Him but to no avail because He had no sinful nature to entice.  We are “tempted” to do wrong because our sinful nature desires to do wrong.  Now we can see that Christ not only had no sin; He was incapable of sinning.

Salvation- the payment of sin. May we first marvel at the plan which upholds the requirement of the punishment of sin while setting the offender free! “Who is a pardoning God like thee, or who has grace so rich and free?” As I understand it, one sin will never be unjustly punished twice. This would go against the character of God and the requirement of punishment. If Christ suffered for each sin as if God had a list and laid each one on Him, then we would be correct to assume that only certain people can be saved. However, I do not believe that is how the work of salvation was completed. When Christ suffered in those three dark hours there was an infinite payment to God that was sufficient to cover the entire judgment for sin. The moment of salvation is when I accept that the judgment Christ bore was for my personal sin against God. Therefore I could never tell an unsaved person “Christ died for your sins”. That would lead them to the conclusion that their sins are already paid for and there is no way they would have to pay for them again so they need not even have to believe. The work of salvation was an infinite and not “one-for-one substitution” redemption work. If the work was only sufficient for the elect then the non-elect would have an excuse for their unbelief in that “whosoever believeth” was not applicable because of the insufficiency of the atonement to cover their sin. This is what I see to be a huge misunderstanding of the work of salvation. Christ is an infinite being who paid the sufficient price to cover the full judgment of sin. However, the forgiveness offered is a gift and if the gift is not accepted than the work of salvation does not cover the sins of the rejecter and that individual will pay for their own sins as they did not come into the good of Christ’s sacrifice.

I pray that I was able to convey what I have been thinking about in some logical manner and am certainly open to any correction in my thinking.
-Rob
Perhaps in the future I’ll more solidly lay out the views of Calvinism and Arminianism and explain why I think both are faulty 🙂  Not to say there aren’t true Christians who hold either of those doctrines (there certainly are as I fully believe there could be true Christians in ANY religion).