Wednesday, September 27, 2006

Academic Steroids

It seems to me that the day is closer than we thought when Anti-Doping agencies will have to do random testing before and after academic tests and exams. Parents are starting to dope their children in order to perform better academically.

Dr. Al Mohler reports on this new phenomenon in which parents attempt to improve their children's academic performance by feeding them pills!

Just thinking...

Monday, September 25, 2006

Justification: Legal pardon

The Reformation is primarily based on the doctrine of justification. At the time of the Reformation corruption was rife in the Roman Catholic Institution. Indulgences were sold to people making them believe that thereby they could be saved or at least less time would be spent in purgatory. Indulgences had even been sold to the families of those who had died with the understanding that the dead would then be released from purgatory. One of the sayings at this time concerning indulgences for the dead was “as soon as the coin in the coffer rings, the soul from purgatory springs.” However, the sale of indulgences was a method by Rome and her alliances to reap great financial benefit to their own riches. It was against the corruption regarding indulgences and its related theological presuppositions that Luther posted his 95-theses against the door of Wittenburg, on October 31, 1517.
 
However, Luther made a greater discovery some time before the great October day. Luther was a sincere, passionate and deeply religious monk. At the time Luther understood his own sinfulness and good works and penance just did not seem to satisfy him. Luther sought to obey his monastic vows completely and was a good monk; very much opposite to the corruption of the day. To assuage Luther deep felt sinfulness, his superiors suggested many things: the reading of the teachers of mysticism, self-punishment according to monastic rules, etc. Nothing satisfied him.
 
Finally his superior suggested a position as a lecturer at the new University of Wittenburg. By 1512 he received his doctorate in theology. While preparing lectures on the Bible, Luther started seeing new meanings to what he was used to.
 
"The great discovery probably came in 1515, when Luther began lecturing on the Epistle to the Romans. He later declared that it was in the first chapter of that epistle that he found the solution to his difficulties. That solution did not come easily. It was not simply a matter of opening the Bible one day and reading that 'the just shall live by faith.' As he tells the story, the great discovery followed a long struggle and bitter anguish, for Romans 1:17 begins by declaring that, in the gospel, 'the righteousness of God is revealed.'  According to this text, the gospel is the revelation of the righteousness—the justice—of God. But it was precisely the justice of God that Luther found unbearable. How could such a message be gospel, good news? For Luther, good news would have been that God is not just, meaning that God does not judge sinners. But, in Romans 1:17, the good news and the justice of God are indissolubly linked. Luther hated the very phrase 'the justice of God,' and spent day and night seeking to understand the relationship between the two parts of that single verse, which, after declaring that in the gospel, 'the justice of God is revealed,' affirms that 'the righteous shall live by faith.'
 
"The answer was surprising. Luther came to the conclusion that the 'justice of God' does not refer, as he had been taught, to the punishment of sinners. It means rather that the 'justice' or 'righteousness' of the righteous is not their own, but God’s. The 'righteousness of God' is that which is given to those who live by faith. It is given, not because they are righteous, not because they fulfil the demands of divine justice, but simply because wishes to give it. Thus, Luther’s doctrine of 'justification by faith' does not mean that what God demands of us is faith, as if this were something we have to do or achieve, and which God then rewards. It means rather that both faith and justification are the work of God, a free gift to sinners. As a result of this discovery, Luther tells us, 'I felt that I had been born anew and that the gates of heaven had been opened. The whole of  Scripture gained a new meaning. And from that point the phrase 'the justice of God' no longer filled me with hatred, but rather became unspeakably sweet by virtue of a great love.'" [1]
 
Justification is related to our spiritual relation to God, our judicial position. It does not speak of our spiritual condition or our actual state. It is the restoration of our relation to God. Justification is a legal declaration by God. It includes the removal of sin by the imputation of the righteousness of Christ (Rom 8:33-35; 3:20, 26, 28; 5:1; 10:4, 10; Gal 2:16; 3:24).
 
He made Him who knew no sin to be sin on our behalf, so that we might become the righteousness of God in Him. (2 Cor 5:21)
 
Justification does not mean that God makes us righteous. It is a declaration of righteousness.
 
But to the one who does not work, but believes in Him who justifies the ungodly, his faith is credited as righteousness (Rom 4:5)
 
Justification, in effect, declares us free from the penalty of sin.
 
THEREFORE there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. (Rom 8:1)
 
Justification does not merely declare us forgiven for our sins, putting us in a neutral state before God, but actually declares us to be righteous. A beautiful picture is provided for us in Isa 61:10:
 
I will rejoice greatly in the LORD, My soul will exult in my God; For He has clothed me with garments of salvation, He has wrapped me with a robe of righteousness.
 
Justification was the heart of the dispute between Protestantism and Roman Catholicism. It is at this point that the Roman Catholic Institution misunderstands justification. To the Catholic system, justification is the sanctifying and renewal of the inner man. Protestantism has always regarded justification to be a declaration of righteousness not based on the actual condition of righteousness or holiness, but on the basis of the perfect righteousness of Christ.
 
THEREFORE, having been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ (Rom 5:1)
 
Justification for the Romans has always been attained by God’s grace (through various sacraments—7 in all), plus good deeds. This justification was given to us at the first sacrament, baptism. However, Scripture affirms that we cannot attain justification by doing things; the works of the law.
 
because by the works of the Law no flesh will be justified in His sight; for through the Law comes the knowledge of sin. (Rom 3:20)
 
Unlike Roman Catholicismthe doctrine of justification gives hope to unbelievers who know they cannot make themselves right with God. Also, we have confidence that God will never make us pay the penalty for sins that have been paid by Christ Himself.
 
For a more indepth look at our subject here visit Phil Johnson's post End of a long series.
 
Just thinking...
 
End Notes
1. Gonzalez, Justo L., The Story of Christianity, Complete in One Volume, The Early Church to the Present Day, VOLUME TWO, The Reformation to the Present Day, Prince Press, Peabody, Massachusetts, First Printing – December 1999, pp19-20.

Thursday, September 14, 2006

Salvation for the world!

A study on some of the universalistic passages of salvation

"I want to say to you that it is God's desire and commitment to save all people. If you've been into hyper-calvinism, about Oh, some are elected and some aren't and now you don't know who is elected and who is selected and who is protected and whatever and so how can you pray with confidence if you're a hyper-calvinist that said that only some people are chosen to be saved."

These are the words spoken by the head pastor of our church in his sermon this last Sunday morning (Text summary, audio, video). What am I still doing in an Arminian church? Long story!

He attributed the beliefs of normal Calvinism to hyper-Calvinism. This happens all too often when people who have no clue about true Calvinism, especially those who believe in the synergistic Arminianism, try to make definitive statements about Calvinism! My bet is that he has never completely read through a true book on Calvinistic doctrines written by a Calvinist, but rather has made his comments on caricatures by other Arminians! Oh, what a shame! Once a person understands these doctrines and the grace bestowed by God, how can you ridicule it unless blindness has set in? True grace is unaccomplished grace, not grace by the effort of free will!

To prove his point he used what I would call "seemingly universalistic" verses from the Bible. They are Rom 10:13 , 1 Tim 2:4 and 2 Pet 3:9. We will look at them shortly.

Before I was convinced of the doctrines of Grace, the Reformed position, which is also sometimes referred to as TULIP, I used to read the universalistic passages of salvation very glibly, thinking, "God wants us all saved, and that is why He sent Jesus to die for us." This way, a plan of salvation was created and all we had to do was sign up for the plan, and... voila, we were saved! WRONG! God's plan was to send Jesus to die for us, not to set up a plan that we had to sign up for, in order for certain people to be saved. There is a great difference here! Jesus died to save certain people, not just to make a plan of salvation available for those willing. In the one scenario, a definite group of people are saved; in the other, the possibility exists that no one would be saved and the death of Jesus was in vain.

Man's religion is a synergestic religion. It is a religion in which God cannot save anyone, unless that person also works with God to save himself. It is a religion in which man is exalted with an "almighty" free will. Even the sovereign God cannot go against this "almighty" free will. In effect, man's free will has been exalted above God, making God a slave to man's will! In this synergestic two way street of compromises between "god" and "Man," "god" has to serve "Man," because "Man" does as he wants, and so "god" has to play the game according to the rules set up by the free will of man. This religion of man is completely humanistic, in which "Man" has become the god of this world and touching his "precious" free will is a violation of his rights of being that god. With his free will intact, man has made the death of Christ worthless and of no effect. The death of Christ accomplished nothing, because "man" and his free will brought it to no effect!.

Biblical religion is monergistic. God can and does save. He is not restricted by anyone and He does not have to save anyone. Yet, in the good pleasure of His infinite wisdom He has chosen some to be saved, but they cannot do it out of themselves. All, even those who have been chosen, are unable to make a positive step toward God and to please Him. Sin, which brought spiritual death and complete separation from God, has so marred man that He cannot make a choice contrary to that nature of sin to which he is in bondage. Yes, he is free, but his freedom is restricted to that nature which he received upon the advent of sin, and so, can only make decisions that are formed by that nature. It is because of this that God had to do the work of salvation for us. Electing those He did not have to save, He sent Jesus to die in their stead, and by His death He actually saved them. In this way the death of Christ was effective to save the elect and certainly accomplished what it was meant to do.

Is God's intention for everybody, the whole world, to accept the call of the gospel, or did He only have the elect in mind for salvation?

Rom 10:13

[1] Brothers, my heart's desire and prayer to God for them is that they may be saved. [2] I bear them witness that they have a zeal for God, but not according to knowledge. [3] For, being ignorant of the righteousness that comes from God, and seeking to establish their own, they did not submit to God's righteousness. [4] For Christ is the end of the law for righteousness to everyone who believes. [5] For Moses writes about the righteousness that is based on the law, that the person who does the commandments shall live by them. [6] But the righteousness based on faith says, "Do not say in your heart, 'Who will ascend into heaven?'" (that is, to bring Christ down) [7] or "'Who will descend into the abyss?'" (that is, to bring Christ up from the dead). [8] But what does it say? "The word is near you, in your mouth and in your heart" (that is, the word of faith that we proclaim); [9] because, if you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. [10] For with the heart one believes and is justified, and with the mouth one confesses and is saved. [11] For the Scripture says, "Everyone who believes in him will not be put to shame." [12] For there is no distinction between Jew and Greek; the same Lord is Lord of all, bestowing his riches on all who call on him. [13] For "everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved." [14] But how are they to call on him in whom they have not believed? And how are they to believe in him of whom they have never heard? And how are they to hear without someone preaching? [15] And how are they to preach unless they are sent? As it is written, "How beautiful are the feet of those who preach the good news!" [16] But they have not all obeyed the gospel. For Isaiah says, "Lord, who has believed what he has heard from us?" [17] So faith comes from hearing, and hearing through the word of Christ. [18] But I ask, have they not heard? Indeed they have, for "Their voice has gone out to all the earth, and their words to the ends of the world." [19] But I ask, did Israel not understand? First Moses says, "I will make you jealous of those who are not a nation; with a foolish nation I will make you angry." [20] Then Isaiah is so bold as to say, "I have been found by those who did not seek me; I have shown myself to those who did not ask for me." [21] But of Israel he says, "All day long I have held out my hands to a disobedient and contrary people." (Rom 10:1-21 ESV)

Verse 13 says that "everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved." That is indeed true! The question, however, is "who does call on the name of the Lord?"

Let us first look at what is being said by Paul here. It is so easy to simply pull a verse out of the hat that says "everyone" or "whoever" while dismissing the context it is found in.

Chapter 9 of Romans ends with Paul showing that the Gentiles have attained a righteousness, by faith, which they did not pursue. Yet, Israel did not attain any righteousness, since they pursued a righteousness that is based on the law through works. As a result, they stumbled over the stumbling stone. "Behold, I am laying in Zion a stone of stumbling, and a rock of offense; and whoever believes in him will not be put to shame." (Rom 9:33)

Paul continues in chapter 10 expressing his desire for the salvation of his fellow Israelites. The Israelites did not submit to God's righteousness which is found in Christ. If a person wants to find righteousness by following the commandments, he must live with that. However, Paul here assumes that the Israelites understood that living by the commandments would simply bring condemnation upon them since no one could live by them without breaking the law. Once a person breaks the law, he becomes a law breaker which condemns him before God.

However, the righteousness that is by faith makes salvation reliant on Christ. Those who attempt a righteousness by the law will be put to shame (9:32-33), but "everyone who believes in him will not be put to shame." 

The Judaizers, those who believed that salvation came through Christ and the Law, tried to get the Gentiles to follow the law for their salvation. However, Paul made it clear that the Gentiles attained righteousness without seeking it, even while they did not attempt living by the law. All this while the Israelites tried to attain a righteousness by following the law.

"No!", says Paul. Righteousness comes by faith in Christ and no other way, even excluding the law. Paul is setting up a contrast here. The contrast is law vs. faith. Instead of everyone having to follow the law in order to attain righteousness, everyone has to believe in Christ alone to attain righteousness. It is in this context that we find verse 13 (and for that matter verse 11 too). Instead of the emphasis on the "everyone" in verse 13, the emphasis is on calling "on the name of the Lord" for salvation. So, instead of reading the verse as

For "everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved"

it should be read as

For "everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved"

So, Paul is telling them that God's salvation is not

For "everyone who follows the commandments will be saved"

but rather that

For "everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved."

What is the point then? Paul is not saying here that everyone in the whole world individually calling on the name of the Lord will be saved. He is telling his readers that everyone, no matter who they are needs to call on the name of the Lord for salvation and not rely on following the law for salvation. No group, incuding the Israelites, may rely on living by the law. Everyone needs to believe in Christ in order to attain righteousness.

1 Timothy 2:4

[1] First of all, then, I urge that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and thanksgivings be made for all people, [2] for kings and all who are in high positions, that we may lead a peaceful and quiet life, godly and dignified in every way. [3] This is good, and it is pleasing in the sight of God our Savior, [4] who desires all people to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth. [5] For there is one God, and there is one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus, [6] who gave himself as a ransom for all, which is the testimony given at the proper time. (1 Tim. 2:1-6 ESV)

In verse 4 Paul writes that God "desires all people to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth." Many would say "all" means "all." Sure "all" means "all." Yet, only as related to the context in which it is used can we find the scope of "all." When Jesus told Paul "for you will be a witness for him to everyone of what you have seen and heard." (Ac 22:15 - The NASB uses 'all' instead of 'everyone'), did Jesus mean Paul was going to be a witness to every single individual, or to all kinds of men? When Paul was accused of preaching to "everyone everywhere against the people and the law and this place" (Ac 21:28 - NIV uses 'all men' instead of 'everyone'), did the crowd mean that he was preaching to every single individual in this world, or to all kinds of people? Paul sets up this generic use of "all" elsewhere too.

"Here there is not Greek and Jew, circumcised and uncircumcised, barbarian, Scythian, slave, free; but Christ is all, and in all." (Col. 3:11) Is Christ indeed in "all" men?

"There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is neither male nor female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus." (Galatians 3:28)

It is consistent with the context of Paul's writings to recognize this use of "all." This is Paul's way of including all kinds of people. "All" in the above two passages cannot mean every individual, but all kinds or groups of people!

Coming back to 1 Timothy 2, knowing how Paul sometimes used the word "all," we need to have another look to see what Paul meant in verse 4 when he used "all people." In order to find this out we need to look at the context. In verse 1 Paul tells Timothy that we should be praying for "all people." Does he mean here every individual everywhere? I contend that he does not! Although the Bible tells us to pray for all people everywhere, I do not believe that Paul is telling us to pray for every individual everywhere in this verse. The meaning of "all people" in verse 1 is unambiguous. Paul sets up the scope of the meaning of "all people" in the very next phrase from verse 2: "for kings and all who are in high positions."

[1] First of all, then, I urge that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and thanksgivings be made for all people, [2] for kings and all who are in high positions, that we may lead a peaceful and quiet life, godly and dignified in every way. (1 Tim 2:1-2).

We have to remember the reason Paul wrote this. It was at this time that Nero blamed the Christians for the burning of Rome. It was a time of intense persecution for Christians, and not very long after this Nero had Paul and Peter executed. Paul reveals to us why we need to pray for "all [these] people:"... "that we may lead a peaceful and quiet life, godly and dignified in every way." It would be the "kings and all who are in high positions" who would be able to ensure the peace of all in the land apart from God as its first cause. Paul was trying to make a point here. "Even pray for those in authority who seems to have your future in their hands. God even wants to save those types!" These "kings and all who are in high positions" are represented as classes of men. Now, having seen Paul's use of "everyone" or "all men," we can come to some conclusion about the phrase "who desires all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth." (1 Tim 2:4 NASB). God desires all kinds of people to be saved.

To find out more about Paul's meaning of "all" we need to also look at verse 5-6. For what reason do we need to pray for "all men" to be saved and come to a knowledge of the truth? Verses 5-6 tell us this reason. There is only one way of salvation without which no one can be saved. Now, let us get back to Paul's meaning of "all." First, if in verse 4 we take "all men" to mean "all men individually," then the conclusion here in verse 5 has to be that Christ must be mediator for "all men" individually. If Christ then mediates for every individual, then He fails as mediator everytime an individual denies Christ as Lord and Saviour by his almighty free-will. It is absurd to assert that Christ mediates for "all," but fails to save "all." Second, the ransom - His own sacrifice - that Christ gives in verse 6 is either a saving ransom or not a saving ransom. If that ransom is a saving ransom, and it is made in behalf of "all men", then "all men" would be saved. Is the intention of the ransom for "all men" to be saved? Then the ransom has failed miserably when the result is compared to the intention.

2 Peter 3:9

[3] knowing this first of all, that scoffers will come in the last days with scoffing, following their own sinful desires. [4] They will say, "Where is the promise of his coming? For ever since the fathers fell asleep, all things are continuing as they were from the beginning of creation." [5] For they deliberately overlook this fact, that the heavens existed long ago, and the earth was formed out of water and through water by the word of God, [6] and that by means of these the world that then existed was deluged with water and perished. [7] But by the same word the heavens and earth that now exist are stored up for fire, being kept until the day of judgment and destruction of the ungodly. [8] But do not overlook this one fact, beloved, that with the Lord one day is as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day. [9] The Lord is not slow to fulfill his promise as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing that any should perish, but that all should reach repentance. [10] But the day of the Lord will come like a thief, and then the heavens will pass away with a roar, and the heavenly bodies will be burned up and dissolved, and the earth and the works that are done on it will be exposed. [11] Since all these things are thus to be dissolved, what sort of people ought you to be in lives of holiness and godliness, [12] waiting for and hastening the coming of the day of God, because of which the heavens will be set on fire and dissolved, and the heavenly bodies will melt as they burn! [13] But according to his promise we are waiting for new heavens and a new earth in which righteousness dwells. (2 Peter 3:3-13 ESV)

Once again the context of our verse is important. We have to realize the topic of this passage is not salvation, but the second coming of Christ! It mentions mockers questioning the promise of the coming of Christ. Peter tells them that the coming of Christ will be like a thief, and at God's own time. By the time Peter comes to verse 9 he merely mentions it in passing! However, there is a clear identification of the recipients and audience of this passage. When Peter refers to the mockers, he refers to them as "their," and "they." By verse 8 Peter's audience changes to the "beloved," "you" and finally "we" in verse 13 where Peter includes himself in this group. When Arminians read this passage, they assume the "you" in verse 9 - "but is patient toward you" - refers to everyone individually. Similarly, it is assumed that the "any" and "all" refer to every individual everywhere. However, the audience here is specific. The intended readers are the "you" and so the meaning of "all" and "any" are limited by the "you..." the intended readers:

Simeon Peter, a servant and apostle of Jesus Christ, To those who have obtained a faith of equal standing with ours by the righteousness of our God and Savior Jesus Christ: (2 Peter 1:1)

So, Peter is writing to a specific group here, not every single individual, and verse 9 is intended for this group. A group that has already "obtained a faith of equal standing with [Peter and other Christians]." Therefore, the context of verse 9 is limited to the saved. Who, therefore, is the Lord patient toward? The "you." The "elect" (2 Pet 1:3). Peter is obviously writing directly to his audience here and that audience is the elect. Thus, the "not wishing that any should perish" group, and the "all should reach repentance" group must then be the same as the "patient toward you" group. The elect! Why did Peter say this, then? Peter is saying that the coming of Christ has been delayed to ensure the in-gathering of all the elect!

So, the "you" in verse 9 is not aimed at every individual on this planet as the Arminian claims at all!

Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved

To understand Rom 10:13, we have to go back a while in time. In fact, we have to go right back to the fall of man.

We have to ask ourselves if man is dead in his sin, or is he just drowning? For the Arminian, man is in the sea drowning, and simply needs to grab hold of the lifesaver's rope in order to be pulled out of the water. The drowning person can then decide whether to drown or to live. On the other hand, the Calvinist believes that man has already drowned and the lifesaver has to literally pull the corpse out of the water. The corpse, as the word implies, is dead! It cannot decide what should happen to it! The Arminian wants Dr. Frankenstein's monster to bring itself to life!

In my post called Who's Free? God or Man? A study on the "choices" of man in salvation I deal with the issue of our free will and show why it isn't free in the sense that people believe. I point to the fact that man's will is enslaved to sin, and as a result cannot in his own strength driven by his free will call upon the name of the Lord!

The end result? On the issue of who calls upon God or who seeks for Him, Scripture is clear:

[10] "None is righteous, no, not one; [11] no one understands; no one seeks for God. [12] All have turned aside; together they have become worthless; no one does good, not even one." (Rom 3:10-12 ESV)

Without God's intervention to bring a sinner to life, no-one will call upon the name of the Lord.

Just thinking...

 

Tuesday, September 12, 2006

The Arminian monster

The night was dark, darker than usual. There were thick ominous clouds in the air. It definitely promised to be a night of lightning and thunder. Yet, it was also eerily quiet in the dungeon of the faraway, hidden castle.

Dr. Victor Frankenstein was ready. He had been working towards this night for many years. In this time that he had been working towards his goal of recreating a human being from parts of dead humans, he had alienated his family and friends. The only one that remained at his side was his trusted assistant, Fritz.

On the table lay a grotesque figure. A man, yet not a man! Fritz had gone to steal body parts from graveyards in order for Dr. Frankenstein to build a human that hopefully, this night, would come to life.

Candles were all over the dungeon. Dr. Frankenstein did not like to have too much light when his "human" came alive. It certainly had a ghostly appearance that made cold shivers run down the spine.

Not too far away lightning could be seen, and it was coming closer! Dr. Frankenstein could no longer contain his excitement. It will not be too long, when his "human" would be alive ready to take on an unsuspecting world. Yet, he had to wait, since nature did what it did at its own pace.

It was almost midnight when the first lightning bolts struck around the castle. As soon as the lightning struck the lightning rod Dr. Frankenstein had installed, the lever had to be pulled that would allow the electricity to give the "human" a jolt of new life.

Then it happened! The first lightning bolt hit the rod! Anticipation! Disappointment. Desperation... "Come on, human! Pull the lever! You don't have to do anything else. Just pull the lever!" cried Dr. Frankenstein.

Then another one. The lightning struck again. Maybe this time! Nothing!? "Come on! I have done everything there is to do my dear creature... Pull the lever!"

Frustration started setting in as Dr. Frankenstein realized that somehow his plan was not going to work. This "humanly" creature was not going to live. "My plan has failed!"

And so, Dr. Victor Frankenstein disappeared into history with no seeming trace of him. He would not become known as the scientist who built a living human from scratch.

However, one little note was found in the annals of history. Dr. Frankenstein legally changed his name to Victor Arminian. You see, he was the only one in history who believed that a dead human could bring himself to life again. It only needed will power to accomplish this feat.

Yet, all through the ages, from Jesus to Paul through Augustine, Luther, Calvin and the reformers, it has always been shown that dead people are dead people. They do not bring themselves to life!

Victor Arminian had many children, and indeed they are among us today!

Just thinking...

Monday, September 04, 2006

The Sabbath: Celebrating Christ in the New Covenant

In the church today there are multiple views on the issue of the Sabbath. How should the Sabbath be kept, if at all?

Some argue that the Sabbath should be kept in the same way as it was kept in the Old Testament while others argue that it should be kept in the same way, yet that it moved to the first day of the week from the seventh. These call the first day of the week the Lord's Day. There are also others that believe that we should treat each day alike and that there is no day that is more holy than another.

In this article we will attempt to define the relationship of the New Covenant believer to the Sabbath.

We will not concern ourselves with commenting on seventh-day sabbatarians since any comments in this article on sabbatarianism, of whichever form, should be able to be levelled at seventh-day sabbatarians.

The Sabbath Instituted

The Sabbath was instituted at Mt Sinai in the Ten Commandments. God instituted the Sabbath for the Israelites to keep in Ex 20:8-11, "[8] Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy.  [9]  Six days you shall labor, and do all your work,  [10]  but the seventh day is a Sabbath to the LORD your God. On it you shall not do any work, you, or your son, or your daughter, your male servant, or your female servant, or your livestock, or the sojourner who is within your gates.  [11]  For in six days the LORD made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that is in them, and rested the seventh day. Therefore the LORD blessed the Sabbath day and made it holy."

Many sabbatarians (whether 7th or 1st day sabbatarians) believe that the word remember in verse 8 has the meaning of remembering and not forgetting what has already been an ongoing institution. However, this meaning of remember is really not found from the text, merely from assumption. In my opinion, remember has the force of informing the Israelites that this is one commandment that should above all not be forgotten. From that day forward the Israelites were to celebrate the Sabbath and not forget it, since it has great significance. Why?

First, verse 11 refers us back to creation, in that God "rested on the seventh day; therefore the LORD blessed the sabbath day and made it holy." Why does this command refer back to God's rest on the 7th day in the creation account? In giving the 4th commandment God wanted to use Himself as the example to follow. As God rested on the 7th day and sanctified it, so He wanted the Israelites to sanctify it and rest on it. God set the 7th day apart and in the same way He wanted the Israelites to set the 7th day apart for Him.

Second, the 7th day rest for God signified completion. "[1] Thus the heavens and the earth were finished, and all the host of them.  [2]  And on the seventh day God finished his work that he had done, and he rested on the seventh day from all his work that he had done.  [3]  So God blessed the seventh day and made it holy, because on it God rested from all his work that he had done in creation." (Gen 2:1-3) It was on completion of creation that God rested on the 7th day, and then He "blessed the seventh day and sanctified it." If there was no completion of creation, God would not have rested and therefore no day would have been sanctified. The fact is that "And God saw everything that he had made, and behold, it was very good." (Gen 1:31) Upon the satisfactory completion of creation, God rested on the 7th day with a rest that signified satisfaction. The rest of the Israelites was to be a rest of satisfaction too. Use six days to do your work and use the 7th day to realise that God has given you the ability to produce something special or bring completion to you own work.

Was there something special about the 7th day per se? No! Yet, as the 7th day followed the 6th day of creation on which God created the pinnacle of His creation, Jesus could say, "The Sabbath was made for man, not man for the Sabbath." (Mk 2:27)

Covenant Sign

[12] And the LORD said to Moses,  [13]  "You are to speak to the people of Israel and say, 'Above all you shall keep my Sabbaths, for this is a sign between me and you throughout your generations, that you may know that I, the LORD, sanctify you.  [14]  You shall keep the Sabbath, because it is holy for you. Everyone who profanes it shall be put to death. Whoever does any work on it, that soul shall be cut off from among his people.  [15]  Six days shall work be done, but the seventh day is a Sabbath of solemn rest, holy to the LORD. Whoever does any work on the Sabbath day shall be put to death.  [16]  Therefore the people of Israel shall keep the Sabbath, observing the Sabbath throughout their generations, as a covenant forever.  [17]  It is a sign forever between me and the people of Israel that in six days the LORD made heaven and earth, and on the seventh day he rested and was refreshed.'"  [18]  And he gave to Moses, when he had finished speaking with him on Mount Sinai, the two tablets of the testimony, tablets of stone, written with the finger of God. (Exodus 31:12-18)

The sign of the marriage covenant between a man and a woman in the west is the wedding ring. If one of the partners of the marriage removes that ring from the finger and throws it back at the other partner, it shows utter contempt for the marriage covenant and as such breaks the covenant and denies the marriage relationship.

In the same way, if an Israelite in the Old Testament did not keep the Sabbath (the sign of the Old Covenant) then God deemed it as breaking the covenant. It is for this reason that there was such a harsh punishment for any Israelite that did not remember to keep the Sabbath. The punishment was death! (Num 15:32-36) God's view of the Sabbath breaker was that such a person did not just break a commandment, but annulled the covenant relationship with God.

Now, at the death of Christ, the Old Covenant had been done away with in Christ and as a consequence the sign of that covenant also ended. As a result there is no need to keep the sign of a covenant that had been abrogated. A new covenant demands a new sign (1 Cor 11:25-26).

The Lord's Day

Sabbatarians of the 1st day variety claim that the Lord's Day (Sunday, the 1st day of the week) has replaced the 7th day Sabbath and as a result all Christians must keep the Lord's day. The rules and regulations are similar to that of the 7th day Sabbath. Most of the Puritans held to this view.

First day sabbatarians see the Lord's Day Sabbath in all the verses that speak of the early Christians getting together on the 1st day of the week.

"[1] Now concerning the collection for the saints: as I directed the churches of Galatia, so you also are to do.  [2]  On the first day of every week, each of you is to put something aside and store it up, as he may prosper, so that there will be no collecting when I come." (1 Cor 16:1-2) If this passage tells us that the early Christians met on the 1st day of the week (which they did), then that is all it does! This passage does not tell us whether they met as a matter of expediency or duty.

Two other verses are used by 1st day sabbatarians to teach their idea of the Lord's Day as a Christian Sabbath. Ac 20:7, "On the first day of the week, when we were gathered together to break bread, Paul talked with them, intending to depart on the next day, and he prolonged his speech until midnight" and Rev 1:10, "I was in the Spirit on the Lord's day, and I heard behind me a loud voice like a trumpet..." The same is true of these verses as of 1 Cor 16:1-2. They in no way instruct us that we should keep the Lord's Day. They are simply telling us that on the 1st day of the week they gathered together.

Concerning Ac 20:7 and Rev 1:10 Tom Wells writes, "First, again along with 1 Corinthians 16:1-2, these verses say nothing about a Sabbath and nothing about one day being more sacred than another. Second, so far as Bible evidence is concerned, we have no way of knowing whether they both refer to the same day, because the Bible does not tell on what day of the week the 'Lord's Day' fell. Third, we know that if the church is to meet it must settle on a day. Any day, then, in the absence of a command from the Lord or his agents, may have been specified for convenience and for no other reason."[ 1]

None of these 1st day passages teaches us of any instructions given by either Jesus or His apostles that we need to treat the 1st day the same as the Old Covenant Sabbath. They simply inform us about what some of the Christians of the time did.

When it comes to the phrase the Lord's Day many have claimed that the very expression points to a sacred day of duty. However, we need to remember that this phrase is used only once in the New Testament and also that absolutely no command has been given concerning the Lord's Day.

Nevertheless, some Lord's Day scholars have observed that the Greek word for Lord's appears in only one other place in the New Testament. Based on this they believe that it would be sufficient evidence concerning the Lord's Day. In the passage of 1 Cor 11:20, Paul is rebuking the Corinthians concerning their aberrational celebration of the Lord's Supper. "When you come together, it is not the Lord's supper that you eat."

Those that believe in the Lord's Day Sabbath believe first, that Jesus declared His Lordship over this meal by using the phrase the Lord's Supper. Second, having instituted this meal He applied His Lordship over this meal by making it a sacred duty and obligation for all Christians. Lastly, based on the evidence above, when John uses the phrase the Lord's Day he means that Christ Himself made this day a sacred obligation for Christians to follow.

In answer to this, first, simply because the adjective "Lord's" is used in both passages, we can learn nothing beyond the fact that in some or other way the day is related to Christ . Second, there is no absolute merit for Lordship over the meal by calling it the Lord's Supper. It rather seems clear that the point of calling the meal the Lord's Supper, that it is meant to commemorate the Lord in His death, remembering what Christ did for the church in His death! Lastly, what we know concerning the Lord's Supper we know from a direct command from the Lord Jesus. There is no such direct command from the Lord or any of the other New Testament writers.

If we now "turn to Revelation 1:10 to discuss the parallel phrase, 'the Lord's Day,' we see immediately that a commemorative understanding would be fitting as well. That is, it is called the Lord's Day to remember something else that Jesus did, his resurrection. We need no further explanation than this. Is this conclusive? No, but it does two things. Number one: it shows that there is no compelling reason to take it any other way. If there is one alternative, there might be many others. Number two: it makes a case for a different parallel understanding that is contextually arrived at, whether right or wrong."[ 2]
 
Relevant New Testament passages

Colossians 2:16-17
[16] Therefore let no one pass judgment on you in questions of food and drink, or with regard to a festival or a new moon or a Sabbath.  [17]  These are a shadow of the things to come, but the substance belongs to Christ.

We need to understand that the heresy Paul was dealing with at Colosse was a mixture of gnosticism and certain Jewish elements.

Paul covers 3 different types of holy days in these verses: yearly festivals, monthly new moons and the weekly Sabbaths. When writing Col 2:16-17, it is very likely that Paul had Is 1:13-14 in mind: "[13] Bring no more vain offerings; incense is an abomination to me. New moon and Sabbath and the calling of convocations-- I cannot endure iniquity and solemn assembly.  [14]  Your new moons and your appointed feasts my soul hates; they have become a burden to me; I am weary of bearing them." The same 3 types of holy days are present in the Isaiah passage.

Paul certainly had the weekly Sabbath in mind. Some claim that he meant yearly sabbaths. However, it would be meaningless to say it twice here, since these yearly sabbaths were already mentioned as part of the annual festivals.

All these types of laws were simply a shadow of what was to come, Christ! Why follow a shadow when the reality has come? Since Christ is the substance, it would be natural not to follow the shadow any longer!

No one, therefore, "is to act as your judge in regard to… a Sabbath day."

Galatians 4:8-11
[8] Formerly, when you did not know God, you were enslaved to those that by nature are not gods.  [9]  But now that you have come to know God, or rather to be known by God, how can you turn back again to the weak and worthless elementary principles of the world, whose slaves you want to be once more?  [10]  You observe days and months and seasons and years!  [11]  I am afraid I may have labored over you in vain.

In Paul's mind, all that was necessary for salvation was Jesus, and all that was necessary for growth in maturity—sanctification—was Jesus. "[T]he Judaizers had pursued the adroit[3] course of presenting to [the Galatians] only part of the requirements of the Mosaic law, those parts which might be least repulsive to them as Gentiles."[4]

Paul saw the Galatians' doubt concerning going on to the Mosaic system as wanting to enslave themselves. He calls this system "the weak and worthless elemental things." He tells them what the weak and elemental things are. It is the observing of days, months, seasons and years. When Paul refers to "days" he refers to sabbath days and other feasts that fell on specific dates. On the other hand "months" refers to observances that were attached to the recurring monthly cycle. "Seasons" refers to seasonal events which would include the passover and the feast of tabernacles. Finally, the year of Jubilee is referred to by "years." Naturally, if you could get people to accept the least repulsive elements of your religious system like Sabbath days, Passover and others, then you can start preparing them for the next level, such as circumcision.

These poor Galatians listened to these Judaizers and started wondering whether they needed to add the Mosaic Law or some part of it to the work and teaching of Jesus Christ, in order finally to be saved. Up until this point it seems that they had not yet accepted circumcision (5:2); however, it seems they already may have adopted these religious days!

As can be seen, Paul covers the complete gamut of religious types of days when he cites "days and months and seasons and years." The mention of "days" could hardly exclude the weekly Sabbath. Paul is very comprehensive in his list, making sure that he does not miss anything!

The inclusion of these 4 categories of religious festival days by Paul surely was meant when he wrote, "[8] But even if we or an angel from heaven should preach to you a gospel contrary to the one we preached to you, let him be accursed.  [9]  As we have said before, so now I say again: If anyone is preaching to you a gospel contrary to the one you received, let him be accursed." (Gal 1:8-9)

Romans 14:1-6
[1] As for the one who is weak in faith, welcome him, but not to quarrel over opinions.  [2]  One person believes he may eat anything, while the weak person eats only vegetables.  [3]  Let not the one who eats despise the one who abstains, and let not the one who abstains pass judgment on the one who eats, for God has welcomed him.  [4]  Who are you to pass judgment on the servant of another? It is before his own master that he stands or falls. And he will be upheld, for the Lord is able to make him stand.  [5]  One person esteems one day as better than another, while another esteems all days alike. Each one should be fully convinced in his own mind.  [6]  The one who observes the day, observes it in honor of the Lord. The one who eats, eats in honor of the Lord, since he gives thanks to God, while the one who abstains, abstains in honor of the Lord and gives thanks to God.

Romans 14 starts off in verse 1 with an injunction to accept those who are weak in faith. Who are those that are weak in faith? The apostle Paul reveals to us who the weak in faith are. "One person believes he may eat anything, while the weak person eats only vegetables." (v2) The ones who believe that we are not to eat certain foods are the ones Paul calls weak! However, we are not to regard the weak ones with contempt. On the other hand, those that are weak should also not judge those that regard all foods equally and who eat all foods. In this Paul addresses those who do not eat certain foods for religious reasons—the weak—and poses a question: "Who are you to pass judgment on the servant of another?" (v4)

Whenever we have certain convictions, we tend to want everybody else to have the same convictions we have. In this way we want them to become subservient to us. However, Christians are servants to God alone, and He is their Master. In these grey-area convictions, we have no right to judge the servants of God. "It is before his own master that he stands or falls. And he will be upheld, for the Lord is able to make him stand." (v4) The Lord is the Master of the weak—those who do not eat—and He is the Master of the strong—those who do eat! We will all stand or fall by the strength of our Master. He will make us stand!

Paul sets off in verse 5 dealing with our treatment of days. Is Paul attempting to resolve a dispute among keepers and non-keepers of days? When read in the larger context of Romans 14, it becomes clear that Paul was not trying to make one view stand above another view, but rather that the two different groups should exercise mutual respect.

Some feel that the Sabbath is not one of the days in consideration here but rather refers to the elaborate Jewish calendar of holy days. They feel that if the Sabbath were in view here, then it would have been more natural to say: "One person regards the Sabbath above the other days." If the dispute in Romans were about the Sabbath alone, then certainly this phrase would have been a more natural phrase for Paul to have used. However, Paul did not have to use the Sabbath as his example since it was not just the Sabbath that was in dispute. The keeping of days, any day, was in view here. Whether it was the Sabbath or any other day, some Roman Christians regarded certain days above other days.

Hebrews 4:1-4:11
[1] Therefore, while the promise of entering his rest still stands, let us fear lest any of you should seem to have failed to reach it.  [2]  For good news came to us just as to them, but the message they heard did not benefit them, because they were not united by faith with those who listened.  [3]  For we who have believed enter that rest, as he has said, "As I swore in my wrath, 'They shall not enter my rest,'" although his works were finished from the foundation of the world.  [4]  For he has somewhere spoken of the seventh day in this way: "And God rested on the seventh day from all his works."  [5]  And again in this passage he said, "They shall not enter my rest."  [6]  Since therefore it remains for some to enter it, and those who formerly received the good news failed to enter because of disobedience,  [7]  again he appoints a certain day, "Today," saying through David so long afterward, in the words already quoted, "Today, if you hear his voice, do not harden your hearts."  [8]  For if Joshua had given them rest, God would not have spoken of another day later on.  [9]  So then, there remains a Sabbath rest for the people of God,  [10]  for whoever has entered God's rest has also rested from his works as God did from his.  [11]  Let us therefore strive to enter that rest, so that no one may fall by the same sort of disobedience.

The context for this passage really is Heb 3:7-4:13. However, we will look at the verses provided in this study.

The "inspired writer explicitly connects the rest which we enjoy by faith in Christ (4:2, 6), with God's creation rest (vv. 3-4), with the rest of the land under Joshua (v. 5), and with the rest of the Sabbath ( sabbatismos, v. 9)."[5]

Sabbatarians say that for "the first time in his discussion of rest the apostle mentions a Sabbath Day. There remains then 'a keeping of the Sabbath', or 'a Sabbath observance' for the people of God. It is unfortunate that the King James translated this word of verse 9 'rest'. Twelve times the word 'rest' is used from 3:11 to 4:11. Always the author's word for 'rest' is a totally different one from the word used in verse 9. The NIV has no textual reason to translate it 'Sabbath rest'  for the word 'rest', used 12 times, is not repeated in verse 9. This word refers obviously to a Sabbath-keeping or Sabbath observance or a Sabbath Day to be kept by the people of God. There is a New Covenant Sabbath Day!"[6]

If one sees a Sabbath Day observance for the New Covenant in this passage, it is only because one wants to see it there. The whole passage, within its context, has nothing to do with the keeping of any specific day, but rather has to do with entering into the rest of God!

When this passage starts off in 3:7 through 3:19, the rest spoken of clearly is related to the entering of the promised land! God's rest for the Israelites was for them to enter Canaan based on the promises of God. However, because of their disobedience in unbelief, God swore in His wrath, "they shall not enter My rest." (3:11) Having written about the disobedient Israelites not entering the promised land—God's rest—the writer of Hebrews starts 4:1 with "therefore." Clearly, what comes next is based on the writer's arguments in 3:7-19!

The reason why the Israelites did not enter Canaan—God's rest—was because the word they heard "was not united by faith in those who heard." (v 2) Then comes the crunch-line in verse 3: "[f]or we who have believed enter that rest." The New Testament rest in Christ for those that believe is the anti-type of the rest that was promised for the Israelites in Canaan!

However, the Christian's rest in Christ is not the anti-type of only one typical rest portrayed in the Old Testament! Just as the writer again shows that through disobedience in unbelief, God swore in His wrath, "they shall not enter My rest" (4:3), he now turns to another type of the Christian's rest in Christ's completed work. That of the Sabbath! He concludes verse 3 by saying that God's works were finished from the foundation of the world. He then quotes from Gen 2:2 when he writes: "For he has somewhere spoken of the seventh day in this way: "And God rested on the seventh day from all his works." (4:4) So, the writer moves from one type of rest (that in Canaan), to another type of rest (that of the Sabbath).

We learn through this that God planned from the beginning that His people should rest in Him. In order to show them in symbols, He first gave them the Sabbath which was God's rest for them and then He gave them entry into the land of Canaan which was also God's rest for them.

Finally, in verse 8 the writer makes it quite clear. If Joshua had given the Israelites rest, which they already had in one form, in the type of the Sabbath, why then would God speak of another day of rest after that? They already had the Sabbath, then they found rest in Canaan, why then did God speak of a further rest?

The writer concludes that there therefore remains a Sabbath for the people of God! (v 9) This Sabbath is then defined for us, so that we do not have to scratch our craniums unnecessarily. He writes that "for whoever has entered God's rest has also rested from his works as God did from his." (v 10) This was the coup d'├ętat against those who wanted to keep Moses as above Christ and through that to force Christians to follow Mosaic regulations. Christ has conclusively been shown as far superior to Moses up until now. Now he shows that just as those who have believed in Christ have entered the anti-typical rest of Canaan, so those who have believed in Christ have entered the anti-typical rest of the Sabbath.

The phrase at the end of verse 10, "as God did from his" is intended by the writer to show that the rest found in Christ is the same as demonstrated by God on the seventh day of creation! The point of the passage is that the rest typified by God for the Israelites in His resting on the seventh day, which led to the institution of the Sabbath, now has finally been completely fulfilled in Christ. Our rest in Christ, therefore, is equivalent to God's intention for His own seventh day rest!

Conclusion
The conclusion to all this is quite simple. There is no need for Christians today to regard any day as more sacred than another. In fact, all days may be regarded as the same! They all belong to God, and our rest is in Christ, not the following of "days," "new moons," "festivals" and "years!"

"It is here the Sabbath finds its true significance, and only by resting in faith in him do we truly observe what the day symbolized. Like circumcision (Col. 2:11), the feast of tabernacles (John 7:37), the Jubilee Sabbath (Luke 4:16-21), the cities of refuge (Heb. 6:18), the Passover (1 Cor. 5:7), the day of atonement (Heb. 10:1-14), and all the ancient Mosaic institutions, the Sabbath has reached its fulfilment in Christ (Col. 2:17; Heb. 4), and it is by trusting in him that we preserve its significance today."[7]

Just thinking...

Notes
[1] Wells, Tom and Zaspel, Fred, New Covenant Theology, New Covenant Media, Frederick, MD, 2002, p252.
[2] Ibid., p255.
[3] Very skilful and quick in the way you think and move.
[4] Wuest, Kenneth S., Wuest's Word Studies from the Greek New Testament for the English Reader, Volume One, Galatians in the Greek New Testament, Eerdmans Publishing Company, Grand Rapids, MI, 1973, p122.
[5] Wells & Zaspel, p232.
[6] Chantry, Walter, Call the Sabbath a Delight, The Banner of Truth Trust, Edinburgh, UK, Reprinted 2000, p93.
[7] Wells & Zaspel, p235.

Friday, September 01, 2006

Bloated opinions of ourselves

Gal 1:4: "who gave himself for our sins…"

"Weigh diligently every word of Paul, and mark well the pronoun ' our ' ; for the effect consisteth in the well applying of the pronouns, which we find very often in the Scriptures, wherein there is ever some vehemency and power. Thou wilt easilt say and believe that Christ the Son of God was given for the sins of Peter and Paul and of other saints whom we account worthy of this grace ; but it is a very hard thing, that thou, which judgeth thyself unworthy of this grace shouldst from thine heart say and believe that Christ was given for thine invincible, infinite and horrible sins. Therefore, without the pronoun it is an easy matter to amplify and magnify the benefits of Christ, that He was given for sins, but other men's sins which were worthy. But when it cometh to the putting of the pronoun ' our ', then our weak nature, and reason, starteth back, and dare not come nigh unto God, nor promise to herself that so great a treasure shall be freely given to her." [1]

I started working through Luther's commentary on Galatians, and when I came to these words I immediately noticed how different this verse would be seen today.

Whereas the people of Luther's day saw themselves as not worthy of Christ dying for them, it is the complete opposite in our modern day. While people in his day acknowledged the fact that they were depraved and of not being worthy of salvation, modern people have such a high esteem of themselves, they almost see it as their right that Christ would die for them.

Among those who believe in some measure that Christ died for someone, very few actually see themselves as unworthy. Preachers today highlight man's worth so much that they preach a gospel based solely on the worth of man. To them, the very reason we are saved is because we are worth it. How do they get to this? Well, we must be worth a whole lot since the price paid was so much! If it took the death of Christ, then our worth must be infinite. So goes the story of today's preaching.

When man's depravity has gone so far as it has today, then it can be expected to come up with such a cockeyed gospel.

The point of Christ's death hardly has anything to do with our worth! Sure, since we do bear the image of God within us we do have some worth. Yet, the death of Christ has to do infinitely more with the depravity of man and the wonderful grace of God.

God is not a grandfather figure somewhere in the sky who loves everybody without exacting the price from those who hate Him! (Dt 7:9-10) "But," you say, "God still loves the world and doesn't hate it!" That is pure modern teaching devoid of the truth of the Scriptures. "The LORD tests the righteous, but his soul hates the wicked and the one who loves violence." (Ps 11:5) It is always said by many modern preachers that God hates the sin but loves the sinner. This philosophy comes from the ideas of man and not from the Bible! The Bible is clear. God hates the wicked! Before any person is drawn to Christ by the grace and mercy of God, he is under the wrath of God. That person is even called a "child of wrath!" (Eph 2:3)

When the wisdom preacher writes in Pr 6:16-19 that the Lord hates "haughty eyes, a lying tongue, and hands that shed innocent blood, a heart that devises wicked plans, feet that make haste to run to evil, a false witness who breathes out lies, and one who sows discord among brothers," would it be correct to think that the writer means there that God hates the physical body parts mentioned? No! God hates the people who those body parts belong to!

Even though God, in His lovingkindness, shows mercy even to the wicked, in no way means that God does not hate the wicked. God's wrath burns against them! Yet, the preachers of today tell the world that they are fine and that God loves them to bits!

"Yes, many there are who turn away from a vision of God's wrath as though they were called to look upon some blotch in the Divine character, or some blot upon the Divine government. But what saith the Scriptures? As we turn to them we find that God has made no attempt to conceal the fact of His wrath. He is not ashamed to make it known that vengeance and fury belong unto Him. His own challenge is, 'See now that I, even I, am He, and there is no god with Me: I kill, and I make alive; I wound, and I heal; neither is there any that can deliver out of My hand. For I lift up My hand to heaven, and say, I live forever, If I whet My glittering sword, and Mine hand take hold on judgment; I will render vengeance to Mine enemies, and will reward them that hate Me' (Deut. 32:39-41). A study of the concordance will show that there are more references in Scripture to the anger, fury, and wrath of God, than there are to His love and tenderness. Because God is holy, He hates all sin; And because He hates all sin, His anger burns against the sinner: Psalm 7:11." [2]

How does God see us? As deserving of everlasting life? No! Rather, God sees us as deserving of everlasting death and punishment. Instead of preaching the whole counsel of God (including man's awful condition, God's wrath and hell), preachers today would rather be God's PROs trying to do damage control against those who preach about Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God! With these preachers it has become a popularity contest in which they try to get the world to like them enough to join them. This is absolutely absurd, since not even Jesus did that! Jesus certainly spoke more about hell and damnation in his three years on earth than most of these PRO preachers do in a lifetime!

The gospel is not easy! Don't be fooled into thinking that the gospel gives us greater lives with more money and more things to hold onto here on earth. That simply shows a materialistic attitude with the gospel yet another means to gain material things. (Lk 12:15; Jn 6:27) The gospel is not cheap, although it is free. Although it is free, the gospel demands our lives! (Mt 19:29; Mk 8:35-38; Mk 10:29-30; Lk 14:26)

The problem of sin is no small thing! While we do not understand how deep and pervasive sin is, we will never understand the salvation of God. Once we understand the horror of our sin and the vile condition mankind is in, we will come to an understanding that when Jesus died for our sin, it was not so much because we were worth it, but because there was nothing else that could have redeemed these vile depraved creatures!

We are not worth it! However, the blood of Christ was worth it!

Just thinking...

1. Luther, Martin, Commentary on Galatians, Translated By Erasmus Middleton, Kregel Classics, Grand Rapids, MI, Published 1979, Reprint of the 1850 edition published by the Harrison Trust, London, under the title A Commentary on St. Paul's Epistle to the Galatians.
2. Pink, A.W., The Attributes of God ( http://www.pbministries.org/books/pink/Attributes/attributes.htm), Chapter 16, The Wrath of God (http://www.pbministries.org/books/pink/Attributes/attrib_16.htm ).

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