Saturday, July 30, 2011

Your Weight in Gold

     I remember sermons from our days in an abusive church. I remember the pastor shouting that we were nothing more (and perhaps considerably less) than helpless, disgusting, worthless sinners. I remember that once he used the illustration of Gollum, who was not only hideous and repulsive, but thoroughly evil and murderous to boot. And I remember believing every word. It was never really a problem for me, because I just kind of took it in stride and accepted it without really thinking too deeply about the repercussions. We weren’t there long enough for the inevitable depression to set in, but it was only a matter of time.


     They really do tell you that, you know. That you’re worthless. That you’re nothing more than a savage, brutish, hideous beast. It’s the first step to complete control: tear down your own good self-image, and convince you that you have no intelligent or good thoughts of your own. Then you’re in perfect shape to accept everything they tell you as the absolute holy truth. Because who are you to say otherwise?
 Nothing, nobody. I heard some news about my friend who is in a church like that. She used to be so happy. She was funny and pretty and silly and a little bit rebellious. Now they are telling her that she is nothing. Just a worthless, miserable, wretched sinner. And she is beginning to believe them, just like I did. Just like a thousand other girls all over the world have believed teachings like this. She tells me it’s wonderful to surrender your will to God and realize that you are nobody, but she doesn’t sound happy about it. She sounds miserable. My friend, who I laughed with, who I cared about, who was so pretty and vibrant, is being destroyed. That’s what they do to you.


     I cried when I heard that. Normally, I do not cry. My typical reaction when I hear of atrocities like this is anger. But I cried. I truly wept. It was awful. How could they do this? They are destroying her. They are destroying every other friend I left behind. I cry when I think of them too, of Helen who is so intelligent and who could change the world if they gave her a chance. Shy Lucy, with stunning dark blue eyes and a timid laugh. Clever Eleanor, who is so observant and can practically read the thoughts of those around her. Witty Aria, with her hilarious and perpetual jokes. All of them, every special and unique and wonderful person, are being told that they have nothing to offer to the world. Worthless.


     I hate that. I hate it. They paint God as a vast, shadowy threat whose hatred for sin is consuming and neverending. The God who made the supreme, unimaginable sacrifice, the God who gave His Son to be tortured and slain so that we would not have to bear this crushing guilt any more, is obscured by this vengeful, wrathful spirit of rage. They never tell you that God is love. They never tell you that you are a new creation, that by His grace your sin is no more. They never tell you that you are beautiful and loved. They don’t tell you that you can laugh for sheer, uncontainable joy at the very thought of the mercy and love that your Father has showered on your head. Instead, they remind you constantly that you are not and never will be enough. They focus entirely on God’s hatred for sin and ignore completely His gift of undeserved mercy.


     Yes, God hates evil. I know that. But God loves me. I don’t know why. I can’t imagine it. Me? This Andrea Grace? But He does. He does, I tell you! And that’s not to say I am awesome; that just means I have inherent worth because He is awesome! Why should I focus on my inadequacy when there are a thousand laughing songs to sing about His unending love? Why should I remain immersed in my own shame when already I have been rescued from it? Jesus Christ died so I could laugh. He died so that justice would be satisfied and my guilt would no longer be my burden to bear. The grace of Jesus is bigger than my guilt.


     If anyof you reading this are being told that you are nothing more than a filthy, wretched sinner, you are being lied to. It’s blunt, perhaps overly so, but there's no other way to say it. You have been clothed in the snowy white robes of grace! You are free from sin, free from the overwhelming burden of your own guilt. Released! Truly and fully released from the dark prison of your own sin. The sacrifice of Jesus Christ was enough for even you. It covered your sin, and you do not have to worry about it any longer. Please. Do not believe that you are nothing. You are a living, loving, laughing human being, created by and in the very image of the holy God. You are loved by the King of Kings. Far from being worthless, you are worth your weight in gold. You are worth the weight of a thousand elephants in gold. More! God loves you. To Him, you are beautiful. The only thing left for you to do is love Him back.
 
When — by grace! — in Christ our trust is, Justice smiles and asks no more!
— Let us Love and Sing and Wonder, John Newton 

*Some names have been changed to protect privacy.


27 comments:

  1. You are a new creation in CHRIST.
    I don't understand why people continually cheapen this.
    No longer just a "sinner," or simply a "sinner saved by grace," but a NEW CREATION with a conscience washed by the Holy Spirit.
    How can we accept the lies that we're worthless and filthy? We're clothed in the robes of Christ.
    Not that we can boast, but the opposite of boasting is not self-abasement.

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  2. Andrea,

    Wow, what a post. You really spoke from the heart and spoke truth.

    One thing people don't think about is the fact that the Church is married (yes, presently married) to Christ. That is why it is so disgusting that people preach the lies that they do. Would they say the same thing about their own wives? No, they wouldn't. Yet they will say that stuff about Christ's wife. Crazy.

    Also, next time you are in a conversation with someone who is in that type of frame of mind show them Mark 2. Notice that Jesus forgives this man's sins! Before any sacrfice, just pure grace, whallah, Jesus wipes the slate clean. (Also, notice that the man was completely forgiven of sin and still had a physical deformity. Kind of throws the whole idea that sin causes physical pain, death and deformity out of the window but I digress). Jesus healed the man, physically, as PROOF that he had the AUTHORITY to forgive sin's after he had forgiven the man his sins.

    There is so much there that could be unpacked but it is a great case to show those who are stuck in legalistic, self-hating, God "hates you" systems.

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  3. Andrea, that was amazingly put. You are such an amazing writer.
    Keep up the good work.

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  4. .............
    I don't cry much either.
    but this got me.

    Wish I could shout this from the rooftop.. but I'm so humbled and changed that God loves me I am just left awestruck. I was one of those girls... who began to be destroyed. God has saved me. We are a new creation.. the old has passed away.. the new has come.

    Joy has set in.
    Freedom rings.
    Grace is enough.

    Thank you from the bottom of my heart. My family told me to check your blog as soon as I could.. now I'm so glad I did. Thank you. Love you.

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  5. Wow! I love all of your posts! This one was so encouraging to read. I have had problems thinking I am nothing and still do. When I was under preaching that did not show you were worth it for Christ to die on the Cross, I was so discouraged. I felt that God just put me on this earth to be a slave to Him. But since leaving that preaching, I have realized that God LOVES me and died on the Cross for me, gave the Gospel for me. I realized that believing your are nothing and not needed for anything on this earth brain washes you and causes so many problems.
    Thanks again for your wonderful posts!

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  6. You are continually saying how we are a new creation in Christ, but what you don't understand is the fact that that is only in Christ! If you take Christ out of the equation, then we are exactly as you described us in the first section of the post! That means we *are* inherently worthless! And nothing but Christ's gift of salvation can change that, so nothing we ourselves do is even remotely good!

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  7. Anonymous, what exactly is your point? I'm not trying to be snide, I just really don't see your point.

    What is the advantage of dwelling on the past?
    And you know, even in that past, in our sinful state, Christ choose to DIE for us. We had worth even then. We were worth it to HIM.

    The point here is that we should not be cheapening Christ. Do you believe that His blood is enough? Do you believe that He fully clothes His children in His robes of righteousness? Do you believe that he sprinkles our consciences and washes them and makes us pure?
    If so, why would you say that after all that, we're still filthy?

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  8. Wow, thank you all for your feedback on this! I loved what you all had to say, especially you, Micah. One hopes people don’t talk about their wives like that….

    Anonymous, I understand perfectly that it is Christ that makes us who we are. You say that if we took Christ out of the equation, we would be as we are described in the first part of the post. First of all, there is no if. Christ is not out of the equation, and there is no reason to take Him out or make hypothetical cases about how bad we would be. Right now, I am me + Christ. I am not worthless, and I am not ugly, and I am not foul because I have Him. The Holy Spirit is in me right now, and I am therefore transformed. Present tense and future tense, now and forever. I am enough because Christ said I am. I am clean.

    Also, very, very few people are actually what I described in the beginning of the post. Look around you. Humans are not worms. If we were… well, we’d be worms! We are made in the image of the holy God! We have some of His qualities, and we always have had them. No person is worthless.

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  9. Great post. This is exactly what so many of us need to hear, myself included.

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  10. I don't mean to throw my theological views in anyones face, and I sincerely don't want to start a blogging war, but my point is that humans *are* worms. Dirty, filthy, dusgusting worms, that must be cleansed by the blood and salvation of Jesus Christ to be worth anything!
    No person on this earth is inherently good. We are all born into sin. Our worth, our abilities, our salvation, etc. has nothing to do with us in any way. Altho I am saved, Im still a sinner who needs forgiveness daily, if not hourly! How can one need forgiveness so often, yet be a good person? I am not a good person, but Christ in me is good. The only reason I am able to any good work is because of HIm.

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  11. Oh don't worry, disussing ideas doesn't equal a blogging war. =)
    Think of blogs as the marketplace or town square. People used to share ideas and listen and learn when they were out and about, now one of the new hang out and exchange place is blogs.

    I would still disagree: Humans are not worms.
    Worms are worms.
    Man, on the other hand, was created in the image of God.
    The fact that we are sinners, born into sin, does not make us worthless. We, as people, were worth being cleansed before we were cleansed. He could have disregarded human beings, but choose instead remove the veil between us and Him.

    I'm not talking about goodness.
    But even so, why focus on one's lack of goodness without Christ, when Christ is in the picture?
    We aren't meant to be moping around, lamenting and agonizing over our selves. Our old selves, at that. To me, it's just so self-absorbed. Christ is the focus now. He's done the work. He's created in us a new man. He's sprinkled our consciences from dirty to pure. He's clothed us in His righteousness.
    We should be bold and confident in that.

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  12. Yes, the exchange of ideas is not a war. Actually, I like it when people disagree! It lets me think and see how others are thinking, and I therefore thank you for your comments. Even though I disagree.:-)

    The last words Jesus spoke before His death were, "It is finished."
    Finished! Not, "It has begun," or, "It's almost over." We are clean already. All our sins, past and future, were taken care of. I think it all comes down to whether or not you truly believe that God's grace is really bigger than your sin.

    And this might just be nitpicking here, but I really can't resist! It sounds like you are, in essence, stating that human goodness and worth does not exist because it is caused by forces beyond our control. External cause is not proof of nonexistence: well, now, say I had a tomato. It is red. The tomato's redness is caused by varying factors, many of which exist independently of the tomato and are beyond its control-- things like light and the structure of the beholder's eyes. You could say that the tomato's redness has very little to do with it, but still none would argue the fact that it (the redness) exists and is a basic part of the tomato. Therefore, the tomato is red, even though it never made the choice to be so, nor could achieve it on its own. It is the same with human worth (also goodness). Christ is a basic, integral, inseparable part of me, if one could put it that way. He is the cause of my worth!

    Anywayy... that was super long-winded, but I hope I managed to communicate clearly. :-)

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  13. @ Anonymous,

    I hope you take the time to read this and reflect on it. I am assuming that you are a Calvinist from your post. It seem't that you have entrenched yourself in the "T" of the TULIP, (Total Depravity). I used to believe this too and I am not sure Calvin's view is the same as what it has turned into in todays "reformed" church but here are some things to ponder.

    First of all, the passages of Scripture you would cite to prove your point are all in the context of Old Covenant Israel. We must be very careful to appropriately exegete the Scriptures within their Covenantal Context or better yet Covenantal "Framework". I won't get on that rabbit trail but keep that in mind. Adam may not have been the first human, but the first "Covenant Man". Now I acknowledge that I probably just lost all credibility with you there but I hope you keep reading. If you are curious as to where that rabbit trail leads, just contact me and we can start another discussion.

    Now on to my main point. Let'e just examine one particular passage. Look at the parables that Jesus tells in Luke 15.

    The context of those parables is that Jesus is hanging out with "the sinners" of the day. These would have been the people who were not "good Jews". Jesus' mission was to the "lost sheep of Israel" which consisted of the bringing back the lost 10 tribes and the lost of Judah.

    As you know, the ten northern tribes were destroyed. Hosea is a great book to read about God "divorcing" Israel (10 Northern Tribes). These got carried off into captivity and became intermingled in with the Gentile nations. (Samaritans for example). (Thus the 2 northern tribes (Judah) got a superiority complex because they were really "God's special people".

    Now, notice in those parable how Jesus refers to these people? Lost Sheep, Lost Coin, Lost Son. None of those things are "worthless". In fact, in that culture those were just about the 3 most important things you could own. (Sheep = livelihood, Coin = savings/protection, Son = carry on the family name per OT code)

    This is how Jesus refers to those whom he was seeking. Yes they were sinners. Israel had a terrible history trying to keep the law. In fact, Hosea records how God would divorce them and kill them, but in his love he would raise them from the dead. But they still had inherent worth in the eyes of God.
    TBC

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  14. @ Anonymous

    Cont...

    Now notice the attitude of the Pharisees and Scribes in the beginning of Luke 15. These people were the "righteous" of their day. They went to church, they new the creeds, they didn't sleep around like the prostitutes, etc. etc. They saw the people that Jesus was hanging out with as "totally depraved" but that is not how Jesus saw them!

    The parable of the prodigal son is especially vibrant in this context. The younger son was Israel (10 northern tribes) and the older (Judah). Yet, God welcomed the younger son back (only as a son and not as a paid servant paying off a debt) when Messiah came. This made the elder son (Judah = Pharisee / Scribes) angry at the grace of God. They had been "faithful" in deeds but in their heart they hated their sonship.

    The OT is filled with prophecy of the the northern and southern Kingdom coming back together under Messiah. Unfortunately, many thought it would be a physical political Kingdom rather than a spiritual kingdom. They also did not like the fact that the mystery was that the Gentiles would now partake. (Those whom God did not even give the "law" to.)

    This is the story of the NT. God raising Israel from the dead and making one new man out of Jew and Gentile in Christ. (Read 1 Cor. 15 with Hosea (where Paul quotes from) in mind and you will see that the dead body of Adam (OC Israel) was raised as the immortal body of Christ.)

    Now I know that is a lot to digest but the main point is they way Jesus looked at the lost sheep of Israel. People living in sin are compared to coins, sheep and children. That is hardly worms.

    There are many other very big problems with Calvin's theology but there is not time here to go into them. However, when you have the attitude that you do, you have the same attitude as the Pharisees and Scribes.

    We have no right to devalue human being, whether in Christ or outside of Christ. Even Pharaoh had value to God because God used him to accomplish the Exodus. It is our job to reflect (like a mirror reflecting God's image) God's view and love of humans to those around us, which is, according to Jesus, very valuable, even to the point of separation from his Father. (The death that Adam brought). I would say, if we can't have this view towards those outside of Christ, we will never truly achieve it for those inside of the Covenant Body. That is a challenging thought.

    Can you love a homosexual like God does? Someone from a different denomination or even religion? You can't if you have the same attitude of those sneering at Jesus while he was searching the hillside for a lost sheep or sweeping the house for a lost coin.

    One last thing, and I going to go out on a limb with an assumption here. Your own beliefs attach value to worms. I am going to assume you believe that all of the material creation is "cursed" and will be "redeemed" at the end of time per traditional reformed theology. If that is the case then even worms have value because you have to admit that Christ came to die for them also...

    Just food for thought.

    Blessings in your journey,

    Micah

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  15. @ Andrea,

    I really enjoyed the insights from this post.

    I am going to give you one thing to think about though. Don't worry, it doesn't change your conclusion. In fact if you follow my logic it might even strengthen your framework.

    You seem to have referred Christ's words on the cross ("It is finished") to the final and complete redemption He came to achieve. While that is true in one broad sense there is more to it theologically.

    I would make the argument that Christ was referring to the "suffering and sacrificial" aspect of his purpose. But not "all" was finished. Stay with me for a second.

    Let's look at the OT type and shadows laid out in the "Day of Atonement Sacrifice". Once a year the high priest would sacrifice for himself and then on behalf of the covenant body of people to atone for sins. This pictures Christ's true and ultimate sacrifice on the cross. However, there was a very interesting thing that happened during that sacrifice (Day of Atonement). The priest would take the blood into the Holy of Holies and sprinkle the blood on the alter and then return back to the people to pronounce that the sacrifice had been accepted. (hmmm.. two comings of the priest...)

    It actually was not until the High Priest returned and told the people that the sacrifice had been accepted that the people knew they had forgiveness. In fact the people waited in anxious expectations during this ceremony. What if the priest did something wrong? What if God didn't accept the sacrifice? What if God struck the priest dead for doing something wrong inside the Holy of Holies? Etc. etc. There were a myriad of things that could go wrong that would prevent the people from being atoned for that year. Interestingly enough, Rabinnic literature records a few instances of H. Priest's taking too long and the people freaking out because they thought that their sacrifice was not accepted. (You can see shades of this in the story of John the baptizers dad "taking too long".)

    Anyway, the people understood that the sacrifice had to be applied to the alter (mercy seat) for there to be forgiveness for the corporate body.

    Now back to Jesus on the Cross. When he cried out "it is finished" I think he was referring to all the was written concerning his sufferings because he still had to be raised from physical death (as a sign to the Pharisees and the unbelieving generation) (Luke 11:29) and a few other things had to happen.

    He had to "ascend" to the true Holy of Holies in heaven. (Acts 1 / Daniel 7, particularly vs 13-14)

    And then he had to return (just like the priest) to the people waiting to pronounce the sacrifice as accepted and completed. Hebrews 9, particularly vs 23 - end of chapter.

    This is why you have that idea in Paul's letters of "salvation being nearer than when we first believed" (Paul not us).
    TBC

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  16. @ Andrea (continued)

    Now here is the bad news: Most of Christianity denies that this has taken place, leaving them in a quandary. They understand that "complete salvation" isn't accomplished yet, but they want to tell people that they can be "saved". This is where the reformed view of "sanctification" (really just works salvation) and "perseverance of the saints" comes in. (Very bad theology based on bad exegesis, IMO)

    Now here is the good news: Hebrews tells us that Christ died for sins at the end of the ages (2000 years ago). It also said that he would appear a second time to those who eagerly awaited him.

    Now here is the really good news: The first century church were the ones "eagerly awaiting" the 2nd coming or 2nd appearing of Christ, FOR SALVATION.

    Now read 1 Corinthians 1:1-9 very carefully and read it as if you were a Corinthian living 2000 years ago. (New American Standard version get's it correct) Did you notice who was eagerly awaiting the "revelation" of Jesus Christ?

    Now here is the REALLY GOOD NEWS. Those who are in the Body of Christ (the immortal body) have COMPLETE 100% FORGIVENESS!!!!! We don't have to wait until the "end of time" to have 100% forgiveness from sin. We don't have to live with the "hope" that the first century Christians lived in (as great as that was). WE HAVE THE REAL THING!!!

    There is a bunch more to this but your conclusions are right on track. However, you will always fight the traditional reformed theology that final and true salvation doesn't come until the "end of time" and Christ comes as a 5'8' Jewish man riding on cumulous clouds.

    This is the root cause of the legalism found in churches like "Repentance" (and even good reformed churches). Deep down their theology teaches that the "curse" is still in effect over God's people and that Jesus hasn't accomplished all of his work.

    (I don't want to denigrate good churches that preach the gospel. Thankfully many people don't follow the logic through but on the flip side this issue needs to be addressed in real way by the modern church.)

    Now the challenge: If what I am saying has merit, then we have to re-examine everything about our theology. The good side is that you can confidently preach the message that you have been preaching and that is sorely needed in today's church.

    One more thing. I don't want it to seem like I am "de-valuing" the Cross. What I am saying is that we have to look at the whole Bible and put the Cross in it's glorious context. I think when we do that it knocks our socks off!

    Ok, Enough food for thought.

    Love you guys.
    Micah

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  17. Micah, I love it when you comment! You really make me think hard. You should have your own blog! Thanks for all your feedback and insight.

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  18. I appreciate that you guys have taken the time to discuss this with me, rather than just writing me off as "one of those Calvinists", but I can see that neither of us is going to be able to convince the other to change their point of view, and thats fine with me. I just wanted to throw in my two cents.

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  19. @ Anonymous,

    It's not about winning an argument, it is about getting people to think. When I started trying to see things from the perspective of those I disagreed with was when I started to grow the most in my relationship with Christ. Even if I didn't change my views on that particular subject at least I understood more and could empathize better.

    Permit me to give you one very personal example.

    A few years ago, I was in a church that was very hateful towards homosexuals. It was one of those "boogie men" that was the cause of all the worlds ills. Homosexuals were not accepted unless they came in the door bloodied and bruised by their self debasing "repentance". (It wasn't any wonder that no homosexuals came through the door.)

    Homosexuals had to "repent" first before God (or anyone in the church) would love them. I don't even know if that was true because, like I said, we just stayed as far away from them as we could.

    However, it was not so easy for me. I had a very close family member that was homosexual. A sister in law.

    The perversion of the Gospel that that church taught was so bad that after a few years, my wife and I would discuss how to "keep" our kids away from their "evil" aunt during the holidays and other such gatherings.

    Of course we would be nice to her face but really we thought that she was a cancer that had to be removed or she would infect our family and possibly drag us all down to hell. (And god forbid if our kids got close to their sinful aunt.) We could not tolerate "that" kind of sin. Pride was tolerated (and encouraged through "holy living", 2 hour services, and a nice exterior) but homosexuality... no way.

    Eventually, I woke up and moved on from that church.

    After I started re-aquainting myself with the real Gospel, I started asking questions to myself. Hard questions. I started trying to see things from different peoples perspectives.

    TBC

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  20. Cont.

    One of the questions I asked is this:

    I am a child of God. God wants the best for me. The best for me is to teach me how to love like God loves...

    Ok, easy so far right...

    Well, what if, God love's me so much that He is allowing my sister in law to persist in her sinful behavior so that I can learn to love a "Samaritan sinner"? (A love that I need(ed) to learn!)

    OUCH...

    What if God is waiting to work in her heart because she is an instrument for Him to work in my heart first?

    DOUBLE OUCH!!!!

    Now, a few years later, my sister in law and I have an amazing relationship. Is she a disciple of Christ? No. But, am I closer to her than a few years ago when I acted like a pharisee? Yes. Do you know what that means?

    Since I am a part of the body of Christ and the New Temple where God dwells on earth, that means she is closer to God because she is closer to me (relationally).

    Wow! Now we are getting somewhere in our evangelism.

    See, I would have never gotten to where I am with her if I would have continued in my former path and attitude. By the grace of God, I have changed my attitude quite a bit towards homosexuals and he used me honestly asking questions and seeking to view things from different perspectives as a tool to move me closer to Jesus' way and closer to Jesus. (He also has used her very effectively in convicting me of my own pride, arrogance and hatefullness towards those who don't live up to "my" standard.)

    Can I save my sister in law? No, of course not. So why am I condemning her?

    My job is to "reflect" Christ to her. I can't do that if I am always turning my back on her waiting for her to repent first.

    The way we treat others should not be dependent on our relationship with them, or how well they live up to our standards. It is solely dependent on our relationship with Christ.

    He loved first, he sacrificed first, he humbled himself first. That should be our attitude toward the "Samaritans" in our culture.

    If you want to further challenge yourself, there is a great documentary out there called, "Lord, Save Us From Your Followers". I would highly recommend you watch it. It will certainly challenge you. It challenged me.

    If you like sermons, here is a great one on this subject:
    http://www.bereanbiblechurch.org/podcast/352b.mp3

    Going around and telling people that they are "worms" is probably not the best attitude. I don't see how that "reflects" the love and image of God or the attitude of Christ. It might not even be Biblical. If it is Biblical, it certainly is reserved as a judgement call only for God and not man.

    Thanks in advance though, this has been a great conversation.

    Blessings in the Kingdom,

    Micah

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  21. How can you possibly call tolerating a horrific sin love? That is the exact opposite of love! Love would be telling that person that their lifestyle is horribly wrong and that they must repent or they will go to hell, not just deciding that, because you can't save them directly, that you might as well just accept them in their filth. Modern day evangelicals have pushed their agenda to all of the "wishy-washy" christians, telling them that God loves everybody, and doesn't want to condemn anybody to hell, but that is utterly false. God is glorified by sending evil people to eternal judgment because he is a just God beyond any human contemplation. Thinking that, just because someone does bad things, doesn't make them a bad person, is just niave. If you believe that, then what would you say does make someone a bad person? Or would you just believe that no person is bad. The bible tells us that man is sinful at the heart with the ability to do decent things only thru the salvation and cleansing of christ, not basically good, but doing some bad things sometimes.

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  22. @"Anonymous":

    For He makes His sun rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the just and the unjust. For if you love those who love you, what reward do you have? Do not even the tax collectors do the same? And if you greet only your brothers, what more are you doing than others? -Matthew 5:45-47

    And the Pharisees and their scribes grumbled at His disciples, saying, Why do you eat and drink with tax collectors and sinners? And Jesus answered them, Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick. I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance. - Luke 5:30-32

    You sound a whole lot like the Pharisees, condeming people to hell and deciding who is 'righteous' enough for you to spend time with. It's people like you who fulfill the world's sterotype of Christians being unaccepting. Also, I would like to know who is ok for you to befriend. According to you, all humans are utterly filthy. How can people get more fithy than that? Or are some people just less filthy than others 'cause they wear skirts and sing hymns?

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  23. @ Anonymous,

    There is a very large gulf between our theologies. You seem to think that you have some Biblical authority to condemn people if they don't live up to your standards right away. Unfortunately you don't.

    The point of my example was that I would never be in a position to introduce my sister-in-law to Jesus and his Gospel if I had your attitude. If our message is simply "come to Jesus to avoid hell" then we are not preaching a Biblical message.

    The good news (Gospel) was that the Kingdom had arrived and was at hand, 2000 years ago.

    Also, I would highly recommend you do a thorough study on "hell". It is not a Biblical idea. Eternal Conscious Torment (the doctrine of hell) has absolutely no grounds in the Bible. Even the Catholic encyclopedia (a denomination with a much longer history than any reformed denomination) admits that Plato is the author of the idea that man is made immortal.

    Only God is immortal (1 Timothy 6:16) and immortality for man is only found in Christ (2 Timothy1:10). So unless you believe that those in your definition of "hell" are in Christ, you've got a major problem with your idea of the soul being an "immortal, invisible part of man" (or whatever your confession states). Go do a word study on the Hebrew word "soul" (nephesh) and you will easily see that it can not mean what your confessions say it means.

    Now before you go off and call me a heretic, you better be prepared to call many reformers heretics also. People like William Tyndale fought against the Platonic/Catholic idea of the soul being immortal and burning in hell forever. Unfortunately the reformed world just didn't want to reform too much and Tyndale and others lost that battle.

    Also, if you believe that sin requires eternal torture then you need to argue that Jesus is still in "hell" paying for our sins.

    tbc

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  24. cont...

    In the beginning of this post you posited your idea of "total depravity" for mankind and stated that man was worth nothing and basically a worm outside of Christ. I showed you from the Scriptures how you were wrong and how Jesus clearly equated worth to those lost, apostate tribes of Israel that he came to save after they were "killed" by God (Hosea). You don't get any more depraved than that and Jesus still equated them with very precious things.

    Most of the cities where Jesus preformed his miracles failed to put their faith in Him! He did the miracles anyway out of love and compassion. Jesus' harshest words were reserved for the religious elite who thought they were clean. They rejected Jesus and they were cast out into utter darkness (They and their city and Temple were destroyed).

    Here is an article that might challenge you on the whole subject of what the "judgement" was that Jesus was talking about.

    http://americanvision.org/3962/wheat-tares-mustard-leaven/

    I hope you take the time to watch the Documentary I cited. It will be very challenging to you. If it is not challenging enough, go and befriend and serve the "Samaritans" (Gay's, liberals, prostitutes, evolutionist, or whatever neighbor you really hate) of your culture without any expectation of reward on your part or repentance on theirs. Just do what Jesus did and lay down your life for them, first. That certainly will be challenging enough and I think your perspective might change a bit.

    On another note, I appreciate your eagerness to dialogue on this subject. This has been a very delightful thread, IMO. I don't say this in a derogatory manner but it does seem to me that you think you know more about your theology than you really do. If you would be up for stretching you mind I would be happy to exchange questions and dialogue about theology. It may surprise you but not long ago I was very close to your position (at least what I know of your position). Thankfully, God sent me some people that were willing to gently challenge me with questions and thoughts to ponder about what I believed. I quickly realized that I knew very little. Once I figured that out, I really started to learn. The only problem is now, the more I learn the more I realize how much I don't know! It is actually very exciting and humbling at the same time. Anyway feel free to email me with questions or thoughts if you would like to get a clear perspective on where I am coming from.

    Blessings,

    Micah
    micahmartin5@gmail.com

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  25. Also @Anonymous:
    I understand where you're coming from, having been there once myself, but I want to leave you with one more thing to think about: telling someone that he will *go to hell* is never a loving thing to do. Love is not cruel like that. Love does not say, "You're scum, and you will burn in hell for things you've done." People say that kind of thing to people they hate. Under no circumstances would I say those words to someone I truly cared about. Love would be saying, "I know you've got a problem here. I accept you in spite of it, and I will help you if you need me to."

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  26. @ Anonymous,

    At the risk of piling on here I wanted to get your opinion on one other passage of Scripture: Mark 2:1-12

    Read that passage carefully and you will notice that Jesus forgives this man's sin's and then he proves it by healing. Now notice that this forgiveness of sin's comes to the man totally devoid of any "penalty" being paid by Jesus. As God, Jesus simply has the authority to forgive!

    This man stood before Jesus totally forgiven! Actually, I shouldn't say stood. He laid paralyzed before God totally forgiven. The physical healing proved that Jesus had authority to forgive sin's. (Notice what this does to the idea that physical deformity or disease comes from the curse on Adam. Here you have a man totally forgiven and still suffering from a physical malady. Unless God is extremely unjust, something that you would argue against, how can he allow this man to suffer the consequences of "sin" i.e. physical malady, paralysis, when this man is totally forgiven?)

    There are only three options here. You can believe Jesus when he said that he had forgiven this man's sin (and thus prove that physical deformity, disease do not necessarily come about because of sin.) You can agree with the Pharisees that Jesus couldn't forgive sins, or at least he didn't forgive this man's "original sin" which made him subject to the "curse" (which would make Jesus a liar) Or you can believe that Jesus forgave this man his sins but then un-justly allowed him to suffer the penalty of sin as if he was not forgiven, which would make God un-just.

    I would love to get your opinion on that passage and how you exegete it.

    Blessings,
    Micah

    ReplyDelete

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