Sunday, June 14, 2009
Grim Fairy Tales.
2 Timothy 3:14 But as for you, continue in what you have learned and have firmly believed, knowing from whom you learned it 15 and how from childhood you have been acquainted with the sacred writings, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus. 16 All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, 17 that the man of God may be competent, equipped for every good work. ESV
This is a very familiar scripture to those who go toe to toe with others who would add the writings of men to the scriptures as doctrine to be accepted by all Christians. Indeed the scriptures are what God has given us to make us wise for salvation through faith in Jesus. And through those scriptures we competent and equipped for every good work. Most assuredly one can also benefit from the bible studies and commentaries of learned men on what they found while pouring through the scriptures. However, one must always hold what these men write and speak to the scriptures like the Christians at Berea did with what St Paul was preaching. Acts 17:11.
The word of God is indeed complete but it does leave some open questions. Since we are sinners, and never really content with what we are given from God, we are always tempted to answer these open questions. These answers differ depending on the viewpoint of the person and to which extreme he is attracted. One question which is not answered is why are some saved and others lost. In order to keep away from the extremes one must not predict or assume things that remain a mystery.
When one is attracted by the extreme in theology which teaches humans make the first move toward God have said that we will spend some time, in heaven, mourning people in hell. Or perhaps Jesus will hold us accountable due to the fact we did not “sell” them on the idea of being saved. This is a prediction and assumption which has no basis in scripture. The grimness of this fairy tale is the idea that heaven will be a place of punishment or sorrow over failures. Jesus paid for all sin on the cross. God also grants faith through preaching of the word and his gifts of the sacrament. In addition this removes the responsibility of the sinner to repent and moves it to a believer he or she knew in life. Revelation 21:1-4 shows us what eternity will be like. How it is that some of our friends and loved ones not being with us and not interrupt our bliss is a mystery. This is a promise based on the fact that while on earth Jesus completed all necessary mourning for us and we receive by faith this benefit.
The other extreme in theology which teaches that Our Lord chooses who will go to hell has its own grim fairy tales. One of those tales states that those in heaven will have a big party and enjoy seeing the misery and despair of those in hell. This first reason that makes it an absurd fairy due to not being located in scripture. Scripture teaches that those who are saved are predestined to be saved but does not teach that those lost are chosen to be lost. Romans 8:26-30 indeed we see that those saved are chosen but the claim that the lost are chosen to be lost is absent. The second reason is that scripture teaches God does not take pleasure in the death of the wicked so it is certain we in his image completely at last will not either. Ezekiel 18:21-32, 33:10-11. Indeed we will not be in sadness but certainly not gloating over those who are suffering the punishment we justly deserve.
Both groups would affirm that scripture is the only revelation given by God. Both groups would claim that the Roman Catholic is in error by elevating the writings of men to the level of scripture. However, to attempt to fill in personal opinion and bias in sermons, commentaries and bible studies to be proclaimed as truth is a similar error. Our consciences are bound solely to the word which is Holy Spirit breathed not the fevered imaginings of our fellow Christians. These will only serve to enslave the Christian and threaten the faith of those trusting in Jesus. Indeed it is possible to serve as a messenger of satan when one is well meaning but not careful.
Thanks be to God for his sure word and promises. Amen. †