Coffee, Theology and Jesus

working out our messy faith over coffee

Category: Salvation (page 2 of 2)

Sometimes Christians Get It Wrong

Originally, I was writing a post about absolute truth and how it exists and how important it is. But then I realized that I don’t know nearly enough on the subject to articulate myself well enough for a post. But as I began to write, another topic emerged. The more I wrote, the more I realized that I needed to take my post in another direction. So buckle up here we go.

As Christians, sometimes we think we own the corner on truth. What I mean by that is we sometimes assume that everything we say about the Christian faith is true, as opposed to truth dictating what we believe about the Christian faith. If you look even briefly at the history of the Christian faith, you will see that we have done things that we look back on and say “what were they thinking?!” For example, the crusades were a very bad idea and not true to the Christian faith and the teachings of Christ. Although at the time they felt justified in their actions, we see clearly now that what they did was contrary to Christ and His Kingdom.

When we look at modern day Christianity (especially here in the states) we must be careful in how outspoken we are regarding what we think we know. Sometimes we over extend our hand and assume that the way we were taught to interpret the Bible is the right way, or the way we were taught to see our culture or the unsaved is the right way. We must extremely careful not to get so wrapped up in our dogma that it blinds us to truth when it is presented.

One of the dangers I see in the Christian faith is that we have let other things such as world views, politics, and compromise come in and alter our view of the way of Christ. We have taken certain messages from the world (such as the liberal message or conservative message) identified parts of it in the Bible, and then made up our own version of Christianity. Essentially, we have let other things dictate how we see the Bible and ultimately our faith, instead of digging more in to the context and history of our faith and seeing how to apply it here and now.

One of the biggest missteps I have seen over the past ten years is the way many public Christian figures (and not so public figures) have handled the homosexual movement. In a faith that is so clear on grace, redemption, love, and forgiveness, we instead pointed out the action of homosexuality and essentially condemned people solely for the particular action. In the process we not only lost the heart of the gospel (that no matter what we do, we are in need of Jesus and His healing), but we lost the ear of many people engaged in that lifestyle. From people like Jerry Falwell and Pat Robertson who blamed 9/11 on the homosexual movement, to the pastor who suggested that we round up all the homosexuals and put them in a quarantined area with an electric fence, we have made some missteps in the way to engage this growing topic in our culture.

Sometimes, we as Christians can accidentally get so arrogant, so full of pride, because we think that our eyes have been open to all truth because of Christ when this is not the case. Sometimes, we think “well I believe in Jesus and affirm his resurrection, therefore whatever I think must be completely true” and this is a dangerous slope because no human knows everything. No human has the corner on all truth. The pursuit of truth is a lifelong pursuit and one that we can never fulfill in our lifetimes. We are wrong on some things. Even now, I’m sure that all of my beliefs are not accurate when stacked up against God and his absolute truth. Even though many of you reading this who are Christians are agreeing with me, your actions sometimes say quite the opposite.

Let me ask the Christians out here a question, when was the last time you apologized to a person who was not in the Christian faith? When was the last time you told someone “I was wrong for thinking that about you”? Christians are called to be humble, people are looking to make things right, not to inflame the situation. I have heard with my own ears people who profess Christianity talk so arrogantly about what they think they know and as soon as someone enters the conversation with a different view, the Christian shuts them down immediately with prepackaged Christian culture answers. This is not the way to engage people and to win their respect so they will hear you out and continue a conversation about deep, complicated things.

Let me ask you (the Christian) one final question. What’s your motive? To prove to the world that everything that you say is absolute truth? Is it to prove that you are right and they are wrong and therefore everyone must see everything the way you see it? Or is your point to introduce them to Jesus so that they may know Him and His way, His teachings, His kingdom? When your motivation is introduce people to the risen Christ, the way you engage people with different views than you changes greatly. It changes from attacking and overloading them with your worldview, to being a listener and conversationalist, trusting that it is Jesus who redeems and saves people, not you.

If all we do as Christians is tell the world how wrong they are, and how right we are, and people reject Christ because of that (as many have) then we still lose in the end. Our only focus should be introducing people to God and His kingdom. The Bible makes it clear, God judges people, not us. Why? Because all are equal at the foot of the cross. Without Christ we are all in the same sinking boat. It doesn’t matter what you’ve done, how you live, Jesus is the only hope for humanity.
-TW

What Salvation Does: Part 2

Ok so in Part 1 we looked at what salvation is.  In its essence biblical salvation is agreeing with God that you are a lost sinner who cannot save himself (or herself) and turning to God for forgiveness of a debt you cannot pay (your sin).  Christ paid the price of redemption on the cross so that everyone can be saved but only those who believe on Him will be saved.

But now that we know what salvation is we should probably look at what salvation does.  If salvation was only “fire protection” from hell that would be a sad thing indeed.  Real salvation has real results! Being a believer is to obey Christ, to rest on him for salvation, and by God to be committed unto heaven’s doctrine of salvation.  We accept Jesus as our Prophet, Priest, and King.  Salvation is much more than just “a rescue from hell” although it is that.  Let’s see what the Bible says salvation does!
Indwelling of the Holy Spirit

John 7:37-39
In the last day, that great day of the feast, Jesus stood and cried, saying, “If any man thirst, let him come unto me, and drink.  He that believeth on me, as the scripture hath said, out of his belly shall flow rivers of living water. (But this spake he of the Spirit which they that believe on him should receive: for the Holy Ghost was not yet given; because that Jesus was not yet glorified.

1 Corinthians 6:19
What? Know ye not that your body is the temple of the Holy Ghost which is in you, which ye have of God, and ye are not your own?

What did Christ teach during His ministry?  He taught that the Spirit of God was going to indwell believers which is much different from the Old Testament experience where indwelling was a temporary thing and the Spirit of God would come and go.  Since the day of Pentecost when the Spirit of God descended (and after the transitional experiences of early Acts) we see that all believers are immediately indwelt by the Holy Spirit permanently.  This CANNOT be lost.  This is probably the most important aspect of salvation.  Why?  Because the Christian life is actually impossible without the Spirit of God.  We have a teacher, a guide, a leader, a provider, a comforter, and a witness.  Salvation is a fresh start and it gives us the ability to live the life that God intends for us.

A New Man

2 Corinthians 5:17
Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new.

Colossians 3:9-10
Lie not one to another, seeing that ye have put off the old man with his deeds; and have put on the new man, which is renewed in knowledge after the image of him that created him.

Salvation is not “a license to sin” because a person that has come into the good of God’s salvation realizes the price of it.  A person who has been saved knows that the price of salvation was the shedding of the precious blood of Christ on the cross of Calvary so to continue sinning is to add to the punishment of Christ.  Would a true believer ever think that salvation gives the freedom to sin?  God forbid!  But as Christians we are given new life as a new man (or woman).  We can be assured like Paul in Romans 7 that our sinful nature is still within us and shall be until we die or are taken up with Christ by the rapture but with Salvation we are able to serve the law of God.  Now, I made a comment in an earlier post that just because you are a Christian does not guarantee you will produce fruit for God.  I think I should clarify that statement a bit.  Christians will fail and fall, stumble and stagger, and sometimes be shipwrecks but the overall tenor of a life that has been saved by God should be of victory and bearing fruit.  What I meant by my comment was that just because we are saved does not guarantee that we will not fail and always produce fruit for God. If we continue to feed our fleshly nature then we cannot produce fruit for God but like David in Psalm 52 there is always restoration for believers (and salvation for unbelievers).  God gives us the power to overcome our sinful nature and gives us new life as a new man but we must walk in it to be victorious and a true Christian will not be happy unless they are abiding in the vine.  Now, we are not to be the salvation police going around and declaring people to be saved or not but if I am claiming to be a true Christian who is indwelt by the Holy Spirit and given new life as a new man I had better be living to prove that and if I’m not I would hope that my fellow Christians would rebuke me and straighten me out.  We have a tremendous amount of “Christians” in this world that confess to be so but from their lifestyle it appears that this is just a nominal title.  Christianity is not a religion it is a relationship with God through a man who gave His life at Calvary.  So when we say we are tied with that man and act nothing like Him, why would anyone else want what “we have” (i.e. a changed life, a new man).  True salvation does change lives!  James gives us that when he says “show me thy faith without thy works, and I will show thee my faith by my works.”

Peace

Romans 5:1
Therefore being justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ.

For me, one of the best things of salvation is that it brings peace.  Peace is something that this world is searching for.  Peace in the Middle East, peace in schools, peace in homes, peace of mind, etc. Everyone is looking for peace.  I would argue that the reason drugs and alcohol are so rampant is this one simple word: peace.  Everyone is looking for it somewhere.  What most people fail to realize is the reason there is no peace is because peace comes from God.  Now, I am not saying that Christians have no problems and enjoy very peaceful lives from the moment of salvation until the end of their life here on Earth, but what I am saying is that true Christians enjoy peace for the entirety of their lives.  When God gives peace it is not just peace from certain circumstances and dangers, and it is not just empty peace that things will turn out ok, but it is peace that whatever God is doing is the best possible plan for me.  Since we have been justified (made righteous by Christ), we have peace with God.  It is very important that this is only through the Lord Jesus Christ.  We won’t find this true peace anywhere else no matter how long we look.  I personally knew a former drug addict and dealer (who was actually the largest dealer in PEI, Canada) who got real salvation and it was the first time he EVER had real peace.  God’s salvation brings real peace because there is now no fear of death, no fear of the “afterlife,” no fear of what life may bring, because God gives peace.


So salvation is much more than being saved from hell, it is to know your sins forgiven, to be adopted into the family of God, to be coheirs with Christ, to be justified, to be sanctified, indwelt by and sealed by the Spirit of God, and the list could go on.  But as Christians we are given a new standard of living and should consider Christ as our role model.  Our lives should reflect well of Him who we claim to trust.  Let that salvation you have be the change that a chaotic worlds needs to see and be a light for the Gospel!

~Rob

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What Salvation Is: Part 1

The next two blog posts will be a little different.  Julia’s dad (my father-in-law) has professed faith in Christ last week and even got up and gave his testimony during CBC’s services on Sunday.  This is a place he hasn’t stepped foot in for years.  I was with him briefly on Monday night and could definitely see a change.  With that in mind I was thinking of what true salvation is and the ways salvation changes us.  This post will be what salvation is and the following will be what salvation does.

What is Salvation?
A mere decision to a proposition?  Not in the slightest.  A mere conclusion of logic?  Also, no.  Salvation of the Bible is something much more than simply a logical decision or a decision of change.  The shortest message of salvation I think you can read is found in Acts 16:30-31:
“And brought them out, and said, Sirs, what must I do to be saved?  And they said, Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved, and thy house.”

“Believe on” has the idea of trusting on, resting on, trusting oneself to, or depending on.  What it doesn’t mean is assenting to, acknowledging that, superficially accepting, or any other form of such things.  In Biblical Greek, the word “believe” and “faith” are very closely related (much closer than we know in English).  In fact it would be correct to translate Ephesians 2:8 as “For by grace are you saved through belief; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God.”  Believing and faith in the Bible are the same thing.  This is a much stronger word than what we use “believe” for in today’s English language.  We use it to say “to think” or “to assent/accept” and even “to come to understand.”  These meanings are not the meaning of “believing on” in Acts 16:31.  There is an illustration I’ve heard often of a tight rope walker in the 19th century that goes by the name of Charles Blondin (real name Jean Francois Gravelet).  He stretched a tight rope across the Niagra Falls to show his pristine balancing skills.  He started across with a balancing pole, then did a back somersault while walking across.  Each crossing after that he completed in a different manner: blindfolded, with a wheelbarrow, even making an omelet in the middle of the rope.  Then he comes to the crowd that was watching him and asks if they believe that he could carry someone across on his back.  Everyone at once screams “YES WE BELIEVE YOU CAN DO IT!”  But then his question changed and was now, “Ok, who will get on my back and cross?”  The crowd suddenly went silent.  Everyone believed ABOUT Blondin.  They saw what he did and believed he COULD do it but no one was willing to believe IN or ON Blondin and get on his back.  Many people believe about the Lord Jesus Christ but only those who believe on Him will ever get real life.

“the Lord Jesus Christ” does not say “Jesus” or “the Savior” or even “Christ.”  He is the one of whom we read that died and rose again.
Jesus tells us that this is the one who became a man to be the savior.  We just recently celebrated the birth of Jesus.  Joseph was told “thou shalt call his name Jesus: for he shall save his people from their sins” (Matthew 1:21).   The name Jesus tells us of his humanity.
Christ is the anointed one.  He is the promised Messiah, the servant of Jehovah (Isaiah 42).  It is a shame to proclaim Jesus as a cool, party attending, rebel character that is found being proclaimed in many churches.  This is the anointed one, the Messiah, the promised one.
Lord is a term used of one in authority over you, one who you submit and bow to.  There are not two separate events of accepting Jesus as your Savior then accepting him as your Lord.  Salvation is the acknowledgment of Him as Lord!

So the gospel of salvation is that man is without ability to save himself but upon the confession of helplessness, the repentance of sin, turning to the Lord Jesus Christ and His work on Christ (both the person and the work) “you shall be saved.”

Romans 6:17 is Paul looking back to before they were “saved” when he says, “But God be thanked, that ye were the servants of sin.”  He is commenting on the fact that we were astray from God and servants of sin.  Then he reflects on their moment of conversion when he says, “but ye have obeyed from the heart.”  The tense of the verb “obeyed” is in the Aorist tense which says it happened at a definite moment of time (the moment of salvation).  But what is interesting is the last phrase, “that form of doctrine which was delivered you.”  Salvation is doctrine; it is truth to be received.  God has revealed the truth of the person and work of Christ and given man the responsibility to respond to the doctrine.  Salvation is truth to be received.

So in the ultimate sense, what is salvation?  It is the supernatural work of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.  It is the redemption of a fallen race and is available to all.  It is not just giving your life to Jesus or accepting a Savior as I hope I made clear.  Now, at Salvation we may not have known everything we were coming into, I know I didn’t.  But we can look at that moment and see that all of these things are true and prove true in the life of a true believer.  Thank goodness we can say:

“For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.”
John 3:16

Next time, we will look at what salvation does.  Stay tuned.

~Rob

 

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The Doubting Christian.

We all doubt.  Let’s face it, at one time in your life you’ve had your doubts about something.  It might have been a job you were hoping to get, a relationship or something else.  But everyone admits in their life that they’ve doubted.

But what happens when it’s your faith?  What happens when one night you have this thought “Am I really following the truth?  Is Jesus really the only way to heaven? What if he’s not? What if I’m the one following something that isn’t true”.  It is here that we come to grips with our biggest fear, the fear that what we have been believing isn’t true.  That it iss a lie.  What happens when we doubt our faith?  Are we even allowed to do that?

A couple months ago I was driving home from hanging out with some people in my local community.  I was alone, it was late, and the roads I take are pretty much in the middle of nowhere with just woods on both sides. I was thinking about how the night went, what we talked about and the life that I found myself living in.  One thing lead to another and I started thinking about my faith and if it was really one true faith.  If Jesus really was who he said he was, if God is what I’ve been taught to believe he is like.  All of the sudden I felt a very dark feeling coming over me.  I felt extremely alone and started to panic.  Thinking to myself “What if I’m going to Hell?”.  I never felt so alone in this moment.  I was breathing heavily, and I felt hopeless.  I did the only thing I knew to do, pray.  I just started to ask the Holy Spirit to give me comfort beyond my understanding.  He did.  I felt a peace come over me, one that I couldn’t explain, a comfort that calmed me, and reminded me of the life I’m living in truth.

Why do I tell this story?  Because the next morning I thought to myself “Do other Christians ever doubt? Are we allowed to doubt?”.  Yes, and Yes.  This really isn’t a very talked about subject. In fact, growing up I’ve only been told the opposite.  That I can have absolute assurance of salvation, that I can be 100% sure that I’m going to heaven one day when I die.  Rarely if ever did I hear the subject of doubt addressed.  And why address it? It’s terrifying.

But we must come face to face with doubt sometime in our life when it comes to the Christian faith.  We shouldn’t feel guilty either.  Remember Thomas?  The one who spent time with the physical Jesus?  What is he famous for? Doubting.  We get the expression “Doubting Thomas” from this guy.  Jesus was so merciful in his moment of doubt, asking Thomas to feel where the nails pierced.  He does this with us.  In our moments of doubt He tells us to look at his hands, to look at his feet, to see where the nails pierced.

It is ok to doubt.  I’ll say that again, it is ok to doubt.  In fact it is when we doubt that we come face to face with our deepest fears.  When this happens we remove all obstacles from God meeting with us directly where we are.  Sometimes we use things to get to God (Such as reading the Bible, or putting worship music on, or attending a Sunday morning service), and these things are not bad at all, but sometimes God wants to cut out the middle man and meet with us directly.  One on one, nothing in between us and Him.  When we have our moments of doubt, and we realize how vulnerable we are, the Holy Spirit comes in and minsters to us.  God, for a moment becomes so close that we can feel His heart beat.

I encourage you to be honest with yourself regarding the faith you believe in.  And don’t be afraid if you have doubts, because God is bigger than our doubts, He isn’t afraid of it, and He desires to have us draw near to Him when we are in the midst of it.

-TW

Knowing God, Without Knowing God

Last night I had the great opportunity to hang out with some great people I know from a local Church.  They had second Thanksgiving which is exactly what it sounds like.  Everyone brings thanksgiving leftovers, they heat it up, then all eat together.  It was great to see 30 people all over the house eating, engaging in conversation, and enjoying a glimpse of the Kingdom together.  It wasn’t long before talks about theology, prayer, Israel and the like came up and everyone participating in conversations like it all over the house.

 

I was sitting in the kitchen at a table and was talking to another guy about prayer and Christianity.  During the conversation the idea of knowing God, without knowing God came up.  The guy I was talking to said “I have so many Christian friends who know the word, they are so close! But they don’t have a living relationship with Jesus.  It’s like reading someones facebook feed without every talking to them”.  In that moment the thought of knowing about God without actually knowing God hit me in a completely fresh way

There’s no doubt there’s always been a tension between works and grace.  But if there’s one thing that I think is clear in Scripture it’s that works are tangible evidence of the faith inside of you.  James mentions this when he says “Faith without works is dead” and Jesus mentions this in Matthew where he says “Only those who do the will of the Father will enter the kingdom of heaven”.  Notice, it’s not who says a prayer, it’s not who walks down an aisle (although this can be a means to doing the will of the Father).  Jesus is clear that it’s not just about saying words, it’s about living out the will of the Father.

 

This should shake us to our core in a very healthy way.  Sometimes I think we get too hung up on the “just pray this prayer and believe” mentality.  James also goes on to say that even the demons believe in God.  Belief is simply not enough.  I think this is important to see because although salvation comes through grace, and through trust in the price Christ payed, that belief is ultimately fleshed out through the life you live.   When people claim to be followers of Jesus, but there is not evidence in their life, they either have a misunderstanding of the Gospel they’ve claimed to believe, or they truly don’t believe in it.

 

Think about it like this.  If someone truly grasped, understood, and was wrecked by this amazing Christ that conquered death for us, offers us a new life transformed, shows us a way to live in wholeness, how would that not change your life?  It’s a shame when I see the gospel cheapened, whittled down to a sentence.  When you do that, not only do you misrepresent the big picture of what is actively happening now, you give the impression that the gospel is just a simple sentence to pray, not a radical life change.  And let’s face it, the gospel of Christ is designed to invade every corner of our life and change it to the ways of God.  This of course, is not an overnight change, and we are all works in progress (I have plenty of junk I have to go through still), but God is patient and He walks through this journey with us, lovingly pointing out where our  life needs to change.   This of course is only one aspect of the Gospel of Christ, and that’s ok.  It’s impossible to fully explain it in a blog post, or a book, it has to be seen through life.

 

It is quite possible to know God, without actually knowing God.  You can have all the head knowledge in the world, all the verses you were taught in AWANA memorized, never missed a Sunday morning in Church, and you can still miss Jesus.  You can still miss the relationship He longs to have with you every day, all day.  Jesus is a person.  Not a book, not a belief, not a sunday morning service.  He is living and breathing at the right hand of the Father, and He desires to talk to us, He desires to guide our life step by step, moment by moment.   We must realize that it’s not just saying “Lord Lord”, it’s about pursing the heart of the Father, doing His will on earth, ushering in the Kingdom of God to a dying world.

 

-TW

 

 

Knowing God Without Knowing God – Tim Whitaker

Knowing God Without Knowing God

Few disclaimers for this post. First sorry for the delay. Life is life and therefore sometimes it is difficult to post as often as I’d like. Luckily for you (the reader) this does not stop my mind from thinking and considering new ideas (if there is such a thing). That being said my second disclaimer is this. I really hope I don’t offend anyone. You’ve been warned.

 

We have a problem in our Christian culture here in the states. That is nothing new, and I can already here the people saying in their head “oh Tim what else is new with you. You’re always picking apart the church, give it a rest.” Let me address this thought briefly. I love the church, Christ died for it, we are His bride. I believe in the church, the church has done endless amounts of good, many people I know love Jesus and walk with Him daily in the church. This is not church bashing, this is simply being realistic about some of the issues we need to address in the church. Here we go.

As I was saying earlier we have a problem in the church. In fact I would call it an epidemic. We know God, but we don’t know God. Let me explain. We in Christianity have this mindset that the more moral we are, the closer we get to God. Of course no one will say this, but it’s an under-current of the Christian faith. We are told to read our Bible all the time, we are told to do good all the time, we are told to serve as much as possible. These are all good things, but they’ve replaced knowing Jesus in our life. The Bible is not God, serving is not God, doing good is not God. But yet we treat them like God. We automatically assume that if we are doing these things, we are automatically walking with Jesus. I submit however, that you can do all these things and completely miss Jesus.

 

Let me address probably the biggest part of this problem The Bible. Uh oh, I’ve gone off the deep end you say. Fear not, I have not. The Bible is great. God inspired it, men wrote it down, God’s truths are in the Bible, and it is incredibly deep and full of life. The Bible however is NOT God and sometimes it seems that we’ve made the Bible the 4th part of trinity. We have taken the Bible and put it on such a high level that we equate spending time with God by reading the Bible. It’s true that we can spend time with God by reading the Bible, but that is not the only way. In fact if God speaks to us and says to spend time with Him by going for a walk and we instead read our Bible, that is sin! We are disobeying what God told us to do, even if it seems more “spiritual” to God you still missed the mark (sin) for what he wanted you to do. Reading the Bible does not always equate spending time with Jesus. Spending time with JESUS equates spending time with JESUS. We must understand this. We must get this truth. This is EXACTLY what the pharisees did. They had the law down, they were the greatest minds and teachers of the Law. And they completely missed Jesus. They had the first five books of the Old Testament (the Torah) memorized. They knew it in the original language, they understood the context, they were great teachers, and they missed Jesus, they missed the whole point. I’m afraid many times we do the same thing in Christianity, only we do it even on a more ignorant level than the pharisees did. Most of us don’t understand the context, we don’t understand the original language, and most of us don’t have a chapter let a lone a whole book of the Bible memorized. We have taken the Bible, claim to know it, and then follow it as a law book and miss what it is pointing to. The Bible does not point to itself. It points to Jesus. We must see this. We must put the Bible in it’s proper place. The Bible is not the 4th part of the trinity. The Bible was not beamed down from heaven in English, it was not written in one period in history, and it was not written by the literal hand of God. The Bible was written over a huge span of time, by men under the inspiration of God, in Hebrew and Greek. The Bible was put together by men who decided (under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit) that these 66 books were the words of God. Let me repeat that, the Bible was NOT written in a year, even the order of the books are not in chronological order. The Bible was pieced together, written in all different contexts, by different authors, all with their own perspectives. This is not to say that the Bible is false, or inaccurate. I’m simply attempting to articulate that sometimes we (with good intentions) use the Bible as a supplement for spending time with Jesus.

Spending time with Jesus, is what it is ALL about. When He died on the cross Jesus literally restored our relationship with God back to the way it was meant to be. The focus is not the rules, or the morality, it is simply God, and out of that everything else flows. The closer we get to God the closer we get to ultimate reality. The closer we get to ultimate reality the more we realize how we were originally designed to live. Sin is not wrong just because it”s wrong. Sin is simply another way of saying that we were never designed to live that way. We were ORIGNALLY created good. Sin distorts that. Our bodies were never designed for sin, we were never designed to live outside of relationship with God. That is what EVERYTHING points to. Christianity is literally all about being restored to Jesus, it’s not about reading your Bible more, it’s not about serving more. It’s about living everyday with Jesus and re-learning how we were meant to live originally. If we start first with Jesus, things like the Bible all fall in to place. The most important commandment Jesus gives is not read the Scriptures everyday, serve relentlessly, or be a really good moral person. The most important Commandment Jesus says is to “Love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul, mind, and strength”. Everything must flow of out of this.

If we miss Jesus then we miss it all. If we don’t know what the voice of Jesus sounds like the we’ve missed it If we are not being lead by the Holy Spirit consistently then we miss it. The point of Jesus is not morality or any action, it is simply being restored back to the way we were created to live, out of that everything else will fall in to place. If we put the cart before the horse on this, then we are no longer in relationship with Jesus and we are instead in a relationship with something other than Jesus, and that is idolatry. First and foremost Jesus must be the starting point. From there it flows like a river.

 

So what’s this mean? It means get out of the box you grew up in. Meet Jesus on a walk in the park, meet him during a movie you’re watching, discuss with Him the GOP candidates. God wants to be in our life, He wants us to know Him and He wants to know us. He wants us to discuss our life with Him like we would discuss it with a husband or wife. God does not need, but instead desires to be an intricate part of our life. For us to limit him to “devotional” or other “spiritual” times, makes God a formula that we think we figured out, instead of the relational being that He is.

 

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).

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