10 Sep 2003

Wrath-filled God of OT is loving Father in the New?

Submitted by theshovel
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I am currently studying Numbers and was wondering if you could take time to explain how the God of the old testament who could be so wrath filled and vengeful is the same loving Father of today. In reading Numbers it takes me back to my old "Catholicism" teaching of the "vengeful" God waiting for me to mess up so he could punish me. I am just having a hard time putting it all in perspective.

God has ALWAYS been love, but He is estimated according to the perspective of the those who view Him. He cannot tolerate sin simply because it is against Him and His goodness. His wrath is not bad, it is His reaction to evil.

Consider this:

For the word of the cross is to those who are perishing foolishness, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God. 1 Corinthians 1:18

But thanks be to God, who always leads us in His triumph in Christ, and manifests through us the sweet aroma of the knowledge of Him in every place. For we are a fragrance of Christ to God among those who are being saved and among those who are perishing; to the one an aroma from death to death, to the other an aroma from life to life. 2 Corinthians 2:14-15

Understand this. The perspective of those without God views the reality of Christ to be foolishness. Christ is the exact representation of all that God is in the visible world. Even the loving Father we know through Christ is STILL viewed as wrath filled and vengeful by the empty man. And even we ourselves who are in Christ carry a "fragrance" of death to those without God.

The God who is spoken of in the book of Numbers is the very same God that has always been, but He cannot be seen any other way by those UNDER LAW. Those under law are under the curse. But Christ came to redeem us from the curse. To US He is love, but to those without Him He is still this horrible monster. Remember, it is not that God is a monster, but that He is viewed as a monster by those filled with hate and envy.

Many religious-minded folks TALK as if God is love when what they mean is that they think He has become "lenient" because of Christ.

We preach the GOOD NEWS which declares that God does not hold sin against the world because of Christ ... but until a person has his/her eyes opened he/she will still maintain that God can only view us the way WE view us which is according to the good vs. bad viewpoint. But in Romans, Paul presented that as a dead-end street because NONE is righteous that way!

The wrath of God simply declares what it is that sin brings: DEATH. His vengeance is NOT like the vengeance of man which attempts to get even. His vengeance is simply that He can not and therefore, will not let sin go unpunished. His vengeance fell upon Himself in Christ. Those who still think they can somehow pay this debt will project their false perspective on God.

Comments

Jim, I am here by recommendation of a friend who has been learning a lot from you. I have been debating him on some things, and he suggested I “go to the source!” So here I am! I confess that I am skeptical, so I will be asking you some things from that angle. For example, you state above, “…God does not hold sin against the world because of Christ.” Do you mean against the entire world, or “hypothetically” against the world? I’ll be asking you a number of questions in the near future, if that’s okay. I see you’ve been called a “heretic” based on your view of the Trinity. Has “antinomian” been used as well?
theshovel's picture

Hello Bill,

Thanks for stopping by and getting right to the point. I understand your reaction to what you read on the web site. Had I come by here many years ago, I would have been very skeptical of what has been written on this site as well.

Yes, I have been called all kinds of things, and I think "antinomian" tops the list, as I've heard it many times. We love labels, don't we? :) I suspect it helps folks feel better about validating their own stance. After all, the one who calls another a heretic or an antinomian must surely NOT be one since he is able to so clearly determine who is and who isn't.

I welcome your questions. However, understand right up front that I am more concerned with the real questions and assumptions that often hide behind such challenges. And I don't mean that in a derogatory or negative way. For we were raised to fear the real questions of the heart so much that we have learned how to shield ourselves by projecting many bogus arguments " especially arguments that have merit. So I may answer your questions with more questions, and you may suppose that I am avoiding your questions.

Now all these things are from God, who reconciled us to Himself through Christ, and gave us the ministry of reconciliation, namely, that God was in Christ reconciling the world to Himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and He has committed to us the word of reconciliation. 2 Corinthians 5:18-19

Does it seem to you that Paul was speaking hypothetically here? After all, who is it that really cannot let sin go? Doesn't the world itself continue to demand retribution? Don't those in blindness keep finding new ways at getting back at one another "¦ as if there is such a thing as getting even? Perhaps that is why it was written, "Vengeance belongs to the Lord." It's not that God does a better job at it (since he really knows how to hurt somebody), it's that the vengeance of man does not nor cannot accomplish God's purpose.

Jim

Thanks for getting back to me so quickly, Jim. And thanks for your explanation of where you’re coming from in answering questions. Yeah, I know what you mean about labels, but didn’t Jude do this when warning the brethren of the false teachers in their midst? What would be “the questions and assumptions that often hide behind such challenges” in his case? You quote 2 Cor. 5:18-19 to, I suppose, answer my first question. Am I to understand then that your answer lies in the phrase “…that God was in Christ reconciling the world to Himself, not counting their trespasses against them…?” In other words, the world is already forgiven? Thanks for any clarification you can be for me on this. To be honest, I don’t see ANY relationship between your last paragraph and those two verses! What exactly are you trying to say? Bill
theshovel's picture

Hello again, Bill

I do not question the reality that false teachers have slipped in among those who are of Christ, as I have spoken and written of it on many occasions. Those who have been delivered from bondage need to be aware that there are those who would destroy our confidence in Christ if they could. The contemporary Christian practice of using even Biblical terms by which to label those who have a different view has to do with technicalities. After all, how many different groups refer to the other as "heretics" while ignoring the very essence of the original meaning?

A man that is an heretick after the first and second admonition reject; Titus 3:10

We have come to associate a heretic as one whose views differ with the accepted teachings of the accepted church. Whichever church or group one holds to, that is. Consider the same verse in another translation:

A man whose opinions are not those of the church, after a first and second protest, is to be kept out of your society; Titus 3:10 BBE

Don't you find it ironic how those who run around calling each other heretics are the very ones, more often than not, promoting division in the body of Christ, rather than testifying to the reality of the unity he brought about? This is what I mean in challenging the use of labels. And I do realize that you didn't actually call me either one of those things, so please take this as just me expressing more of where I'm coming from.

As to the term "antinomian", I venture that most don't even know what it is " unless they have been schooled in its use " except that it sounds rather ominous. I have had people ask me what an antinomian was simply because they were warned that I was one. It just seems that we gravitate too easily to the usage of terms that have more to do with creating an aura of Biblical proportion rather than with promoting Christ. You got my nickel's worth on that! :)

You said that you don't see any relationship in that last paragraph to the verses in 2 Corinthians. How about we start with the first statement: "Does it seem to you that Paul was speaking hypothetically here?" As I've been more vocal so far, tell me how you answer what I asked here? :)

Jim

Jim, setting aside the charlatans who use name-calling to promote their group/sect, not all name-calling divides the body of Christ. By rooting out false teaching and teachers, the local body actually is in a healthier position than before - and able to be genuinely unified because only true believers will remain. I’ll answer your question with a question: Which part do you refer to as possibly hypothetical? The role of Christ in reconciling the world, our role in reconciliation, that we’re reconciled to God or that God isn’t counting our/their trespasses against us/them? Back to the use of labels. One thing we need to consider is the history of the development of Christian doctrine. This is a fascinating study - to see how we got to the doctrines we hold as orthodox today. I don’t know about you, but I take seriously those doctrines that have stood and will continue to stand the test of time! Sometimes I get the feeling that in this postmodern world all that matters is what we think today, and that can be very subjective, not to mention dangerous. In other words, I don’t see how the Church can just throw out 2,000 years of thinking, rethinking, archeological discoveries, fine tuning, etc. In other words, I’m comfortable with doctrines like the Trinity. And you?
theshovel's picture

Regarding the hypothetical, I am not the one who has suggested anything about it. I only responded to your initial comment, where you asked me:

"Do you mean against the entire world, or "hypothetically" against the world?"

It seemed that you might have been referring to how you viewed it, and I wanted you to expand upon it if that was the case. I don't see it as hypothetical. I see it as establishing full confidence for us to declare the message of reconciliation. In this specific context, Paul declared this reconciliation to the believers in Corinth who were at odds with one another on account of all the divisions that had been created among them. They had been examining each other, finding some more spiritual than others, and some quite contemptible and lowly. Among the most despised was Paul himself. But Paul was more than happy to take the brunt of their judgment, including all the name calling, for he knew where his confidence came from.

Throw out 2000 years of experience? No way. For it tells quite the story of how the truth of Christ has continually been twisted and perverted by the manipulations of religious-minded men, often in conjunction with the political system, in the attempt to control society by establishing an institution that dictates the truth of God. The history of the religious Christian Church reveals why the apostles said to watch out for such men. The innocent have always been caught in the crossfire. Millions " believers and unbelievers alike " were persecuted, injured, killed, ruined, or banished by a simple act of name-calling that was claimed to help purify the church.

Do you really think anyone is safe from subjectivity because they stand upon 2,000 years of thinking, rethinking, archaeological discoveries, fine tuning, etc? I agree that we should learn from what has gone before, but I will stand firm in the freedom of Christ while I do. I could never be comfortable with the doctrines established by men and councils, even when they contain many words that testify to truth.

Jim

Jim, sorry about not picking up on my original question and your dealing with it. My original question had to do with God not holding sin against the ENTIRE world because of Christ. I asked if this “not holding against” was real or hypothetical (i.e., based on man’s response to the gospel). You responded by asking if it appeared to me that Paul was speaking hypothetically. Then you go and switch gears and appear to condemn those who DO hold sin against others. Getting back to the original issue, I was trying to see if you’re saying that God has ALREADY forgiven everyone in the world, regardless of what they’ve done with Christ. So, what do you say? Regarding the context for Paul’s words, we need to take into consideration v. 12: “Now when I came to Troas for the gospel of Christ and when a door was opened for me in the Lord…” In other words, in the immediate context Paul is referring to the gospel, which gives us a pretty big clue as to what he means by “from death to death,” don’t you think? Jim, you seem to have a disdain for those “2,000 years of experience.” But I think we can safely assume that God is big enough to take even the vilest motives and actions of men and channel them into what accomplishes His purposes. As you know, He can even order men to do what would be considered “vile” to accomplish those GOOD purposes (e.g., the wiping out of an entire ethnic group). This is one place where we differ, my friend. I am comfortable because those doctrines have stood up against all sorts of challenges and have kept “coming out on top.” Can you say the same about your doctrines and emphases? If your “grid” produces a whole new interpretation by projecting onto the text something that was never seen there over 2,000 years, that would be sending up a red flag in my mind! Again, I told you I was/am skeptical, so please don’t go and get all offended on me! Bill
theshovel's picture

Bill,
Before I saw your first comment, I had already checked out your website. From what I read on the front page, I was pretty sure "skeptical" was quite an understatement as to how you viewed or would soon view me. Is there a reason you suppose I might get offended by what you say?

The fact that you've already got your mind made up is okay with me, however I find the continued miscommunication wearying. You respond with projections created from your own assumptions, and I cannot even begin to answer the straw man scenarios and questions you pose.

Those who preach the truth of Christ have long been persecuted and slandered by those who establish themselves as authorities. Does it seem so unlikely that institutional councils of men made sure to erase as much of the printed message of grace as possible? Propaganda is nothing new.

Jim

Jim, I used “skeptical” because “the jury is still out” in my mind. It really is hard to figure out exactly where you’re coming from. Excuse the over-used expression, but figuring you out is like trying to nail jello to the wall. It may appear that I have my mind made up; I admit that it is made up regarding the biblical gospel and evangelism. What comes after one becomes a Christian is not as clear to me, although I do have some strong opinions on some areas. And this is what I see your focus being on: those who are already in the family. So don’t assume you have me totally figured out yet. At least I’ve given you a clearer glimpse into who I am via my blog than you have via this website. So you feel I use a lot of straw man arguments? Don’t we all? Maybe you don’t see it, but your eisegesis is startling for someone who is supposedly trying to get people to take another look at things. “Sure, take a look, as long as you look through MY glasses!” So you’re insinuating that the “printed message of grace” has been pretty much eradicated from history? On what basis do you make such a claim? Or is that one of your assumptions? Just putting the shoe on the other foot a bit. Thanks for bearing with me. Bill

Hi Jim, I do not mean to distract from the conversation between you and Bill and I KNOW I ask allot of questions but, what do you mean by : “And even we ourselves who are in Christ carry a “fragrance” of death to those without God.”? I ask this because this fragrance of “death” you refer to is a bit away from me right now.[in my thoughts] What death are we talking about? Condemnation -from -God- kind of death? Shall I get a label, some oil and a bottle and sell this new fragrance? We could call it the “small a death”! lol but seriously, would you please take a moment to explain this death? Adam
theshovel's picture

Hello Adam. There is no distraction here, my friend.

The fragrance of death is simply the unbelieving perception of the exact same thing that is life to us. For it is the life of Christ. You see, while life from the dead brings the fragrance of sweetness to us, it can only bring the opposite reaction to those whose identity hangs upon the old dead thing.

Jim

ok I see, So it is not as if you are saying it is actual “death”? Rather it’s that it is nothing of value? Or even offensive? Just wondering if the word death was significant?
theshovel's picture

But thanks be to God, who always leads us in His triumph in Christ, and manifests through us the sweet aroma of the knowledge of Him in every place. For we are a fragrance of Christ to God among those who are being saved and among those who are perishing; to the one an aroma from death to death, to the other an aroma from life to life. And who is adequate for these things? For we are not like many, peddling the word of God, but as from sincerity, but as from God, we speak in Christ in the sight of God. 2 Corinthians 2:14-17

Adam, the word death, as well as the corresponding life, is quite significant. for it well describes how Christ within us and declared by us is received by the world around us. What determines how the fragrance of Christ within us is received? Simple, it's in the eye of the beholder. Those who have received the Spirit of God catch the aroma of life that leads to life, while those who judge by the wisdom of the world react to the very same thing as being death that leads to death. How else could the fragrance of total forgiveness and life be judged as death unless it was estimated by the mind of death? Realize that this whole thing hangs upon one's estimation of Christ, who is the wisdom of God. :)

Jim

Jim, so you don’t see the “death” Pauls speaks of in 2 Cor. 2:15 as the “death” of Rom. 6:23? Since he refers to “from death to death,” I understand Paul referring to spiritual separation now (due to sin) and spiritual separation for all eternity - the Second Death (Rev. 21:8). And you?
theshovel's picture

Bill,

I like to allow each letter to speak for itself rather than simply plug in a similar phrase into a predetermined systematic format. You see, I might agree that Paul's reference to death in 2 Corinthians would surely relate to another verse such as Romans 6:23, but not in such a way as to totally ignore the way he used it in his letter the Corinthians, such as you suggest above.

Jim

Jim, I brought this up because of your statement to Adam on what is “death” to the unbeliever is actually what is life to us: Christ. Why would an unbeliever consider Jesus Christ to be “death?” Look at all the “Christs” out there, including the “Cosmic Christ” of the New Age. Certainly the all-loving, all-forgiving Christ that so many refer to wouldn’t give off an aroma of death, unless… “death” means something other than what you say it means in the 2 Cor. passage. Couldn’t Paul have had the same concept in mind when writing Romans and 2 Corinthians?
theshovel's picture

Bill, once again, if you were to take what Paul wrote in his letters to the Corinthians into consideration you could not possibly miss the obvious references to why unbelievers consider Jesus Christ as they do. You can't hear what I'm revealing about the context because it doesn't fit your systematic approach, and you don't like that. Instead, you suppose somehow that making a reference to the "Cosmic Christ" has some kind of bearing upon anything I have stated. Maybe that works with others, but it only tells me that you're only listening to yourself.

Everything about Jesus Christ is connected to death, for it is only through his death that we have been released from the bondage of that death into his resurrected life. Can you not understand how that comes across to the natural mind? The natural mind has already made its assessment of the one who was condemned at the cross, and it finds everything about him despicable. And this assessment goes way beyond mere words, it is a matter of nature. The natural mind is antagonistic to everything that Jesus Christ is, for he is deemed foolish, and despised, and weak, and the lowest of the low, and worthy of death. He is everything the natural mind hopes to avoid and escape. His pure goodness and compassion without bias is esteemed as the essence of weakness and contempt. The abuse poured upon him is that which the mind of the world agrees as deserving.

When the message of Christ is received, the results bear testimony to the natural mind as to the rightness of its judgment. For those who need such a savior are held in the same contempt, because they reveal themselves as the losers of this world, and that mid judges that the world would be better off without them. Only weak, lame, stupid, ignorant people buy into a savior that exemplifies the same.

Jim

Jim, This really spoke to me: “. He is everything the natural mind hopes to avoid and escape. His pure goodness and compassion without bias is esteemed as the essence of weakness and contempt. The abuse poured upon him is that which the mind of the world agrees as deserving.”-Jim Adam

Jim, What basis do YOU have to “reveal…the context” in question? Yes, the cross was/is a stumbling block to unbelievers, which called into question the credibility of the One who was crucified, but can we say that the reaction is to “total forgiveness and life,” as you put it, or to the fact that those who are dead in their transgressions actually need a Saviour to be justified before God? The latter is an ego buster and implies that they can never be good enough on their own to be acceptable to a holy and just God. I’m only listening to myself? I admit that I was transferring a timeless truth across to today by referring to the “Cosmic Christ,” but that was a reaction to your statement that the fragrance of death is related to the life of Christ. I don’t see that in the context. I see the gospel in the context (v. 12), which would mean that the fragrance of death would have a lot to do with the life of Christ + the spiritual and eternal deadness of man due to sin. After all, if there’s no “death” due to sin, there’s no need for an atoning Christ. I agree that Christ and Christians are despised by the world because of His/our perceived weakness, foolishness, ignorance, etc. But I would add that we are also despised for pointing out the world’s need for that very same Christ! It’s one thing to need a crutch; it’s another to say that THEY need that very same “crutch.”

So I guess the “death” is again just ..deadness. I mean as dead as flesh is dead. It just has no living perspective whatsoever. The perspective of death IS all we once had before being alive in Him I suppose.

Adam, if I could be so bold… ” In ancient triumphs, abundance of perfumes and sweet odours were used; so the name and salvation of Jesus, as ointment poured out, was a sweet savour diffused in every place. Unto some, the gospel is a savour of death unto death. They reject it to their ruin. Unto others, the gospel is a savour of life unto life: as it quickened them at first when they were dead in trespasses and sins, so it makes them more lively, and will end in eternal life.” - Matthew Henry (1662-1714)

Hi “Visitor” Thanks for your comment and your desire to help. I actually was more referring to the use of the word “death” as it were but, you have pasted a very nice sounding description! Thanks for your heart. Love, Adam

Adam, I don’t know why I was identified as “Visitor.” Bill here. I invite you to look at some of my Q&A with Jim on the meaning of death. Based on 2 Cor. 2:12, I contend that the “from death to death” refers to “from SPIRITUAL death to ETERNAL death” in light of one’s response to the gospel. I pasted Matthew Henry’s words because he says it so well. God Bless! Bill
theshovel's picture

Bill, you are identified as Visitor because you must have logged out, but not back in again.

Thanks for the tip, Jim! I don’t remember logging out, but I just logged in again to avoid future problems. Now I understand why my comments didn’t automatically appear as before. Thanks!

Hi Bill/ AKA Visitor..lol Yes I saw what you said. Thanks, Adam
theshovel's picture

Bill, I pulled this conversation from the above thread where the width was getting a little too narrow. I set your comments in a quote box to distinguish them from mine. Jim

I used "skeptical" because "the jury is still out" in my mind. It really is hard to figure out exactly where you're coming from. Excuse the over-used expression, but figuring you out is like trying to nail jello to the wall. Bill

I can appreciate that. I wouldn't have thought you were actually considering anything I might have to say, so you will understand my own skepticism. :) Maybe it's the attempt to figure each other out that causes the frustration in not being able to do.

It may appear that I have my mind made up; I admit that it is made up regarding the biblical gospel and evangelism. What comes after one becomes a Christian is not as clear to me, although I do have some strong opinions on some areas. And this is what I see your focus being on: those who are already in the family. So don't assume you have me totally figured out yet. At least I've given you a clearer glimpse into who I am via my blog than you have via this website. Bill

Realize that when you refer to the gospel that I understand that good news to go way beyond just a message of introduction into Christ. So, when you commented in another place that the context suggested it was about "the gospel" " as opposed to your assumption that I hadn't considered that idea " I realized that your recognition of the gospel must be restricted to a systematic format.

When I first created a web site at the end of the 90s, a former companion/student retorted that the gospel was nowhere to be found in anything I had written. I know what he was looking for as he skimmed the (at that time) very small site. He was expecting to find a page with the familiar 7-step gospel presentation format we all learned together. He didn't find it. And based on his responses, it was quite obvious that he really hadn't read what I had written. Otherwise, he wouldn't have made such a blanket statement. The fact is that even while in Bible College some of us came to wonder why the Bible wasn't as clear on the gospel as our 7-step program was.

Looking back, I wasn't questioning the seeming discrepancy at the time, however I had been hit by a few that were asking me what I thought. Actually, on my part, I had suggested they were making unfair assessments. However, the idea had been planted. I slowly " and very reluctantly " came to realize that the "make it clear" gospel we preached had more to do with logic than with the miraculous declaration of being raised from the dead to new life. Since we believed the gospel needed to make sense to our audience, we had to couch any given Biblical statement with numerous cross-references, organized within the 7-step program.

The need for salvation because of sin is unmistakable and unquestionable. Do we need to convince the audience of that? Hardly. Despite what may appear, I believe most of those we encounter are so riddled through with their own guilt that they struggle to make it appear they have it under control.

I remember how important it seemed that I really convince a person from the Bible that he or she was a sinner. We probably used the same verses. A lot religious folks would agree with me, and even those who wouldn't step foot into a church often expressed an acceptance of their eventual end in hell. The thing is, it was more a religious reaction and/or a reaction against a religious idea. The irony came as it slowly dawned on me that while I was trying so hard to get them to accept how sinful they were on a more massive scale (you know, guilty of all), I was usually overlooking the ONE overbearing burden of guilt they desired deliverance from.

If the harvest is truly ripe, perhaps we don't need to follow a set of steps to make sure. Maybe we end up forcing those we preach to into an appropriate religious mode from which they struggle for the rest of their lives to figure out what comes after. You see, there is a real reason why so many Christians have been left not knowing what comes after. I followed our 7-step plan of salvation in my preaching, and then tried to follow the 4-talks (another formula) for how to live the Christian life. I also came to the conclusion that something was not quite right with the approaches I was taught.

So you feel I use a lot of straw man arguments? Don't we all? Maybe you don't see it, but your eisegesis is startling for someone who is supposedly trying to get people to take another look at things. "Sure, take a look, as long as you look through MY glasses!" Bill

My eisegesis, eh? :) You know, there's no real way to take the edge off what so many might regard as startling. While you may consider that it's my glasses I want people to see through, you could not help but eventually recognize that it is the Spirit of Christ who has become your life by which I want you to view all things. If my approach of continually pushing the context of a letter as the best way to understand the individual statements in that letter comes across to you as MY way, then I will take the criticism. :)

So you're insinuating that the "printed message of grace" has been pretty much eradicated from history? On what basis do you make such a claim? Or is that one of your assumptions? Just putting the shoe on the other foot a bit. Thanks for bearing with me. Bill

Eradicated? Hardly. It's just that it doesn't get top billing in a religious climate with so many mainstream versions of the truth. I have found some excellent testimonies to life within some systematic theologies, only to have the power of their statements washed out by other statements made to help balance them out. The life cannot be hidden, darkness cannot overcome the light, but if we're looking for the councils of men to declare the power of Christ we're going to wonder why it seems so ineffective. While I know I preach a message of life that doesn't sit too well with most and may seem as if I made it all up, I have never suggested that no one else has understood or declared the same things as I have. I don't take myself quite that seriously. The fact of the matter is that I will tell you that because of God's Spirit within you, you have been given to know all things. Realize that this in no way means that you will correctly figure out all Biblical writings, but that the knowledge of Christ within you far surpasses it. :)

Jim

Hi Jim! Sorry for the delay in replying. I agree that the “gospel” encompasses much more than a simple salvation formula. The summary in 1 Cor. 15 actually reflects deep discussions on God, Christ, man, sin, etc. It is possible that Paul’s summary was an early creed that the Church used, but we are not to assume that this “summary” should translate necessarily into a 3, 4, or 7 step plan of salvation. Having said that, we can never underestimate the impact of a concise explanation of the gospel. I know of several believers, including my wife, who genuinely converted to Christianity via these types of presentations. However, since 2005 I have jumped aboard a renewed emphasis on the BIBLICAL use of the Law in evangelism and an avoidance of “Decision-ism” (i.e., pressing a person to make a “decision” for Christ vs. allowing the Holy Spirit to be the one convicting, convincing and motivating the person to repent of their sin and place their faith/trust in Christ as Saviour and Lord). You may think nearly all Americans are keenly aware of their sin, eliminating the need to convince them of it, but I have seen an increasing flippancy toward sin and/or a “because-God-is-loving-He’ll-forgive-me” mentality on the part of most. People don’t understand who God is (i.e., holy and just, as well as loving), who they are in His sight (i.e., transgressors of His Law - 1 Jn. 3:4 and, therefore, condemned) and why Jesus is their only hope. As far as your “glasses,” I wasn’t taking issue with your methodology here. I just don’t see what you seem to see in some of the “contexts” you claim are supporting your views. That’s why I used the word “eisegesis.” Although you seem to have an aversion to “theological systems,” I’ve already commented on your “systematizing” your view by appealing to passages in both Galatians and Romans in another discussion. Their contexts were different, right? If you’re consistent, why do you do the very thing that you accuse me of doing as wrong? If the “Grace/Christ” message hasn’t been eradicated, besides yourself, who else would you point to - especially from past centuries - who promoted this? Okay, a couple of additional questions: 1) Are you emergent? 2) What do you feel about the canonicity of the Bible? Are you satisfied with what we have in our hands today, or do you question how we got it - the seemingly man/council-centered approach to arriving at a reliable NT canon? Thanks for continuing our discussion. Bill
theshovel's picture

Hello again, Bill :)

I appreciate you following up on my response with a respectful reply. Please know that I did see the comments you posted on another article from a few days ago, but I didn't want to establish a situation where I would have to follow you around from place to place on one topic after another. After all, I believe that if we can't connect here in a meaningful way, it won't happen by spreading it out. :) Thanks for bearing with me and considering this a bit more.

Having said that, we can never underestimate the impact of a concise explanation of the gospel. I know of several believers, including my wife, who genuinely converted to Christianity via these types of presentations. However, since 2005 I have jumped aboard a renewed emphasis on the BIBLICAL use of the Law in evangelism and an avoidance of "Decision-ism

I have no doubt that many have come to Christ during such presentations. Of course, many of those may experience more of a sense of confidence in something that had already taken place. I'm pretty sure that's how it was in my case. Unfortunately, what may seem a good thing can often become a set up for fleshly dependence. I not only experienced this in myself, I have seen this very thing take place over many years.

The formula itself became a substitute confidence in the mind of many, as the ability to express it clearly overshadowed the miraculous working of God. We strove for a better and better a handle on the "clear" gospel, and we taught others to do the same. I began to recognize this very thing applied in so many ways that it astounded me. I've also written much on what has been referred to as "decisional regeneration". Those articles are probably on the former database at this time (you can access them through the upper right-hand link).

I certainly understand the role of the Law in convincing people of their need for deliverance from bondage. I've seen many try to use it in evangelism, but I think the overwhelming lack of understanding of Law by Christianity in general only ends up helping to establish the sad state of bondage in many believers. In other words, if I really don't understand how it works ruin in the life of believers, then I may not really understand how to use it in an initial form of evangelism (that is, the good news to the lost).

You may think nearly all Americans are keenly aware of their sin, eliminating the need to convince them of it, but I have seen an increasing flippancy toward sin and/or a "because-God-is-loving-He'll-forgive-me" mentality on the part of most. People don't understand who God is (i.e., holy and just, as well as loving), who they are in His sight (i.e., transgressors of His Law - 1 Jn. 3:4 and, therefore, condemned) and why Jesus is their only hope.

It is the work of Law that makes this known, and America is saturated with Law and laws. I don't need to convince anyone of something that has already been at work. However, if I listen I can easily address the bondage that hangs over the bogus claims. I agree that those without Christ cannot understand who God really is. Despite all the claims, they don't understand his love any better than they don't understand his holiness and justice. God is only understood through the indwelling of the Spirit. The attempt to convince men of their "utter sinfulness" by threats of torture is what created the deplorable situation in the Roman Church. We only think we are doing it differently than they did. And that's why the Protestant Church has established so many of the same traits. Fear is no respecter of religious affiliation. :)

As far as your "glasses," I wasn't taking issue with your methodology here. I just don't see what you seem to see in some of the "contexts" you claim are supporting your views. That's why I used the word "eisegesis." Although you seem to have an aversion to "theological systems," I've already commented on your "systematizing" your view by appealing to passages in both Galatians and Romans in another discussion. Their contexts were different, right? If you're consistent, why do you do the very thing that you accuse me of doing as wrong?

Just because I may take issue with systems created by randomly applied Biblical cross-referencing, my aversion to theological systems is not defined by or restricted to the use of cross-references. My point regarding your cross-referenced explanation of "death to death" was not merely that you suggested something from Romans. My objection had to do with how you overruled my suggestion found in the immediate context of the Corinthian letters by appealing to a meaning based partly on Romans and partly on The Revelation. I wouldn't deny any possible similarities in meaning just because it's not in the immediate context, however I do take issue when that context takes a back seat.

I'm pretty sure I've written about this somewhere else on the site (once again, probably on the old database), but I'd like to tell you about a teacher who challenged me years ago. He was an outsider to our Bible College, brought in primarily for the college's desire to gain accreditation, but one semester's class was all I needed to shake me up. The class was Homiletics (which for those who don't know what I didn't know until that time, it has to do with the preparation and delivery of sermons, or "homilies").

In the very first class, he followed the book for our course where it described the different kinds of sermons. You know what? Almost every single sermon I had ever heard preached followed one technique: decide what your message is going to be and then find the Bible verses to back support it. Heck, even our "in context" messages pretty much followed that pattern. He simply dismissed it out of hand. Period. He claimed that the only legitimate approached to sermon making was exegetical, that is, context and only context of the letter being preached from. And that was the only approach he would accept in class.

In our attempts to create sermons in his class, we were a bunch of babbling idiots. LOL!! We were homing pigeons, for our predisposition to cross-reference kept us from letting the context speak for itself. After we gave our messages, he would ask us things like why we didn't consider some critical piece of context, or why we started off so well only to miss the point. Some expressed their sore displeasure in his methods, but some of us learned something valuable during our short class. I never saw or heard from him again after that semester (as it was my last), so there's a lot I don't know about the man. But it sure gave me a lot to consider and question.

The more I dug into context for any and every Bible study, the more I recognized the general preference of opting for a system designed to supposedly help our understanding instead of considering the writer's intent in the particular letter or book of study. Once again, it's not that what is seen from other Scripture is not valid, it's about letting the context of a letter or book be the primary reference in any consideration. Beyond that, Paul's other writings, also in their own contexts, will best aid a study of one of Paul's letters, John's other writings best help understand John's particular style in a given writing, etc.

Having said all that, you could follow exegesis to a T and still miss the truth of Christ's life in us. To do so, you'd probably have to admit that Paul was off his rocker, or a little too ethereal, since you'd have followed his intent more closely. You would still have to turn the overwhelming awe of the miraculous into godly principles rather than letting the life speak for itself.

If the "Grace/Christ" message hasn't been eradicated, besides yourself, who else would you point to - especially from past centuries - who promoted this?

Please know that I'm not trying to be a smart alec by first listing Paul, John, Jesus, Peter, and even James. Actually, my experience would show forth that John was initially more important.

I forget a lot of names, but I've discovered amazing stuff contained in the writings of Martin Luther, Augustine, Arthur Custance, J.Sidlow Baxter, Miles Stanford, Arthur Pink, Lewis Sperry Chaffer, Francis Schaeffer, Watchman Nee, T. Austin Sparks, Major Ian Thomas, Bob George, among others. I've seen Christ even in some of the Systematic Theologies I will criticize as a whole. I've also heard the voice of Christ through my wife and children and friends and even in those who seek to disprove him. It's just amazing how and when and where you might hear him. I've witnessed his life by the shadowy image that cannot help but to demand the fulfillment of what is missing.

Okay, a couple of additional questions:

1) Are you emergent?
2) What do you feel about the canonicity of the Bible? Are you satisfied with what we have in our hands today, or do you question how we got it - the seemingly man/council-centered approach to arriving at a reliable NT canon?

1) I'm familiar with the term "Emergent Church", but like other titles, it obviously means different things to different people. A few years ago, a guy who put me on his incredibly long list of Emergent Church links called me "the best kept secret of the Emergent Church". However, every search I just tried found no record of it. I think I must have lost my position. LOL I'm still listed on his web site, but then again, so is just about everybody else who is not mainstream.

2) I'm surprised you didn't do a search of my site for that. It's not hidden. Of course I question how we got it. You may jump to conclusions, but you may want to pay attention to what I do question as opposed to what I do not question. I'm not going to write it out here.

http://theshovel.net/shoveletter/2002/shadows/daddy-long-legs

My best regards to you!
Jim

Hey Bill and Jim. I’m glad to see you interacting with each other. It appears like you both have made your minds up. Haven’t we all? I guess what’s important is what our minds are made up about. And there’s only One who can change our minds, eh? Tim
Tim

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