Sunday, August 16, 2009
One can understand people searching out God. There are so many gods on the market that one can miss the True and Living God. In the Holy Christian church much disagreement and confusion exists about this God with whom we are to deal. But should there be such confusion?
Colossians 1:15 He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation. 16 For by him all things were created, in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities—all things were created through him and for him. 17 And he is before all things, and in him all things hold together. 18 And he is the head of the body, the church. He is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, that in everything he might be preeminent. 19 For in him all the fullness of God was pleased to dwell, 20 and through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether on earth or in heaven, making peace by the blood of his cross. ESV
We see in the section from the letter to the Colossian Church that Jesus is the revealed God. Using means, as God is always wont to do, he took on human flesh to reveal all that we need to know about God. How that God is kind, compassionate, forgiving and giving. So much is God this way that he had himself nailed to a cross carrying the sins of the entire world with him and paying its penalty.
This is highly unsatisfying to the unbeliever. The Jews are offended and the Greeks stumble at it. Imagine our Creator submitting to that treatment and not taking vengeance there and then. So much not taking vengeance that he actually prayed for his crucifiers that the Father would forgive them. No this problem with the crucifixion of Jesus that the unbeliever has is quite understandable.
What is terrifying is to see the disregard some Christians have toward the cross. Many will go to churches where the preacher will seldom mention the cross. Instead of repentance and the forgiveness of sins preached in the name of Jesus will be a law presentation and a warning that if one does not stop sinning he or she is in for it. On the other side of the spectrum law is preached that if one obeys properly health wealth and happiness is a guarantee with great parking thrown in for good measure. Still further in that direction law is preached to those who care about righteousness are sinning by not liking what impenitent sinners keep doing and still call themselves Christian. All these focus on what the Christian has to muscle up against and nothing about what Jesus has already done.
Luke 24:45 Then he opened their minds to understand the Scriptures, 46 and said to them, “Thus it is written, that the Christ should suffer and on the third day rise from the dead, 47 and that repentance and forgiveness of sins should be proclaimed in his name to all nations, beginning from Jerusalem. 48 You are witnesses of these things. 49 And behold, I am sending the promise of my Father upon you. But stay in the city until you are clothed with power from on high.” ESV
Yes indeed as loving children of our Father we are to fight sin. Through the power of the Holy Spirit we can lay aside obvious vice. However, we still fall far short of the glory of our Sinless Shepherd. He is the standard isn’t he. This is why Our Lord stated that repentance and the forgiveness of sin be proclaimed in his name. We need it!
In the name of Jesus. Amen †
Wednesday, August 12, 2009
Matthew 22:14 For many are called, but few are chosen.
“There you have it! This verse proves Limited Atonement.” Oh that I had a dollar for every time a statement such as that has been made about that verse. Like always we want to paste this back onto the context to see if meaning of the passage follows suit with that assumption.
Matthew 22:1 And again Jesus spoke to them in parables, saying, 2 “The kingdom of heaven may be compared to a king who gave a wedding feast for his son, 3 and sent his servants to call those who were invited to the wedding feast, but they would not come. 4 Again he sent other servants, saying, ‘Tell those who are invited, See, I have prepared my dinner, my oxen and my fat calves have been slaughtered, and everything is ready. Come to the wedding feast.’ 5 But they paid no attention and went off, one to his farm, another to his business, 6 while the rest seized his servants, treated them shamefully, and killed them. 7 The king was angry, and he sent his troops and destroyed those murderers and burned their city. 8 Then he said to his servants, ‘The wedding feast is ready, but those invited were not worthy. 9 Go therefore to the main roads and invite to the wedding feast as many as you find.’ 10 And those servants went out into the roads and gathered all whom they found, both bad and good. So the wedding hall was filled with guests.
11 “But when the king came in to look at the guests, he saw there a man who had no wedding garment. 12 And he said to him, ‘Friend, how did you get in here without a wedding garment?’ And he was speechless. 13 Then the king said to the attendants, ‘Bind him hand and foot and cast him into the outer darkness. In that place there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.’ 14 For many are called, but few are chosen.” ESV
This parable is a ridiculous story. No one dared turn down an invitation from a king for a wedding feast. One the one hand it is a great honor to be invited. On the other hand one turned down this invitation to his or her own peril. Not living in an age of sovereign kings we cannot relate that each and every whim, if not obeyed, could bring about forfeiture of everything one owned and perhaps his or her life. This is speaking of the treatment God’s prophets received from his people when they came telling about the judgment and deliverance they would find in YHWH. However we see the ultimate reaction of the king was to invite everyone without exception.
Most guests show up in the provided wedding garments with the exception of one guest. He thought his garment was appropriate. These garments represent what we receive by faith. The robe of Jesus’ righteousness is received by those who believe and is what we wear when we go to the Lamb’s High Feast and what we wear in that eternal feast of victory in glory. Those in unbelief will not receive that righteousness preferring to trust in his or her own good works. This garment is never appropriate for it is tainted with sin although it may look holy.
So this passage refers not one bit to who is died for and who is not. The call goes out to all. Our Father does not play the game where he would call those for whom Christ did not die to repent for they would not have the price paid. This is placing our thoughts and ways as finite fallen humans onto God. And it is also submitting v 14 to an idea cooked up outside of scripture and again read down on top of it. The understanding is not complex at all. Those who are in Christ are chosen for he is the living stone rejected by men but chosen and precious. To the unbeliever Jesus is the rock of stumbling and offence and they will not receive his gifts. Those who believe do receive him and become a spiritual house and a royal priesthood. 1 Peter 2:1-9
This is a horrible playing with scripture to tell others Jesus did not die for all of mankind. That teaching takes the bitter sufferings and death of Jesus away as objective evidence of sin paid for and tosses the sinner back on him or her self to try to hash out an answer. This answer will never keep a person in the true faith over the long haul. We are constantly under attack and accused by false and erring brethren, the world, our sinful flesh and the devil. The last place we need to look to for assurance is the seat of the problem which is ourselves. Rather look to the finished work of Jesus and how we receive the benefits won by him through preaching of the word, Holy Baptism and the Lord’s Supper. For you.
In the name of Jesus. Amen. †
Thursday, August 6, 2009
Double Jeopardy! This is the response one gets from those who believe, teach and confess Limited Atonement. The thought behind it is that if Jesus died for the sins of every person then to send the unbeliever to eternal hell is to punish them a second time. This would be unfair to our fair mindedness but God is free to operate under his own rules or none at all.
2 Corinthians 5:18 All this is from God, who through Christ reconciled us to himself and gave us the ministry of reconciliation; 19 that is, in Christ God was reconciling the world to himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and entrusting to us the message of reconciliation.ESV
However, we see in the above section that because of Jesus’ perfect life, death, burial and resurrection God is no longer counting trespasses against anyone. One will object and mention that people still go to hell. Those who go into everlasting punishment do not end up there because of sin but rather unbelief. John 3:18.
Each and everyone of us are by nature sinful, unclean and an enemy of God. In loving kindness Jesus came and bore the entire curse of the law for every person ever born. This gift is received by faith and is reject able by those who either do not see the need for saving or rather try and do it for themselves. St Paul addressed this type of unbelief in his letter to the church at Galatia. So horrible is this and terrifying he uses extremely harsh language later stating that those who seek to justify themselves have fallen away from grace and are severed from Christ:
Galatians 5:2 Look: I, Paul, say to you that if you accept circumcision, Christ will be of no advantage to you. 3 I testify again to every man who accepts circumcision that he is obligated to keep the whole law. 4 You are severed from Christ, you who would be justified by the law; you have fallen away from grace. 5 For through the Spirit, by faith, we ourselves eagerly wait for the hope of righteousness. 6 For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision nor uncircumcision counts for anything, but only faith working through love. ESV
When we trust solely in the finished work of Jesus we have nothing to fear. The fact that he paid for all sin we do not have to fear that he did not pay for us. Rather we can look with confidence that our sin was nailed to the cross and paid for entirely by Jesus who was later raised so we also shall be raised. We can hear with confidence the good news that Jesus died to redeem us. This is probably why John Calvin was so unsure when teaching on the sacraments. One cannot have firm trust in baptism and the Lord’s Supper when one is convinced Jesus did not die for everyone for how can you know these gifts are for you? Jesus died for each of us! We can trust the promises associated with baptism and the Lord’s Supper not doubting that it is for us! Is that radical good news or what?
In the Name of Jesus. Amen. †
Sunday, August 2, 2009
Even though I spent many years with Calvinist beliefs it is unclear why Limited Atonement is needed in the mind of a Calvinist in order to have the Gospel. A dyed in the wool Calvinist as I was at one time will argue till the last breath that Jesus did not die for every person but rather only those who would believe. One of the verses that those who believe in Limited Atonement have attempted to hang their hats on is Matthew 25:13. The person will say “See Jesus does not even know the unbeliever!” Well lets paste that verse back into the context and see to whom that verse refers.
Matthew 25:1 “Then the kingdom of heaven will be like ten virgins who took their lamps and went to meet the bridegroom. 2 Five of them were foolish, and five were wise. 3 For when the foolish took their lamps, they took no oil with them, 4 but the wise took flasks of oil with their lamps. 5 As the bridegroom was delayed, they all became drowsy and slept. 6 But at midnight there was a cry, ‘Here is the bridegroom! Come out to meet him.’ 7 Then all those virgins rose and trimmed their lamps. 8 And the foolish said to the wise, ‘Give us some of your oil, for our lamps are going out.’ 9 But the wise answered, saying, ‘Since there will not be enough for us and for you, go rather to the dealers and buy for yourselves.’ 10 And while they were going to buy, the bridegroom came, and those who were ready went in with him to the marriage feast, and the door was shut. 11 Afterward the other virgins came also, saying, ‘Lord, lord, open to us.’ 12 But he answered, ‘Truly, I say to you, I do not know you.’ 13 Watch therefore, for you know neither the day nor the hour.ESV
Notice that all 10 were invited to the wedding. Those who were foolish did not provide for the late arrival of the bridegroom not really believing he would come at any hour. The wise ones came prepared with extra oil for they believed he would come regardless of the hour. So the foolish were representing unbelievers who do not trust the promises of God to do what he says he will do. Placing that verse back into the context we see that it does not teach Limited Atonement at all. Parables are sayings of Jesus which admittedly are not clear at times. So we take clear passages to understand what is meant by the unclear.
We read in Ephesians 2:1 that we are dead in trespasses and sins. Dead not in the way that we are not breathing or moving about. Dead in this sense is being separated from God and his enemies. Those with faith later on in chapter 2:4-7 were made alive in Christ so we are seated in the heavenly places with him. Those who are outside of the faith are not seated with Christ and have no part of him. So the fact that he states he does not know them is explained by the fact of not being in Jesus. Those of us in Jesus are known and loved as sons and daughters of our Father. So yes it refers to those outside of Christ but in no way says they are outside of Jesus because he did not die for them.
So we see once again that Limited Atonement must be cooked up outside of scripture and in this passage once again read down on top of it to make scripture teach it. We should never seek to peer into the eternal decrees of God any further then he has given us scripture. Reason is a wonderful and needful thing to get through this fallen world. But it is a horrible practice to use it to try to figure out how God has ordered things.
By reason of the faith we are given we receive the benefits Jesus earned for us on the cross when he suffered the forsakenness of our Father in heaven for the sin of the world. What a horrible thing that is and so unnecessary for their sins were paid for by Jesus objectively but did not receive it by faith to their subjective justification.
Thank you Holy Spirit for the faith you have given us. Grant true repentance and faith to those we care for and others we do not know who are still outside of Jesus. Amen. †