Sunday, July 25, 2010

Getting the L Out of Here. Part 9

Hebrews 2:9 But we see him who for a little while was made lower than the angels, namely Jesus, crowned with glory and honor because of the suffering of death, so that by the grace of God he might taste death for everyone.ESV

“You have that verse out of context.” That was the response I received when discussing Limited Atonement with a Calvinistic buddy of mine. The word context is a lead balloon often used to quench an argument. Context is definitely needed in finding out what scripture teaches on a subject. My challenge is to show how many verses, such as the one above, one needs to make it say that Jesus did not taste separation from God for every person. Without that proof context is just that a lead balloon which is supposed to shut everyone up that disagrees with the person using the word.

Limited Atonement is a presupposition that is read down on top of scripture to try to answer the question of why some are saved and others lost. In reading this on top of scripture then sections of scripture which clearly teaches that Jesus is Savior of all men is read to say the opposite. This is an attempt to protect the Sovereignty of God for if God wants all men to be saved, 1 Timothy 2:4, and all men are not saved then we do not have a Sovereign God is the fear. This fear is a challenge to the Sovereignty of God in that we once again fall upwards in an attempt to comprehend the incomprehensible. This is fascinating that a professing Christian would refuse to affirm a clear teaching because it does not make sense to a finite mind steeped in sin.

I accept the challenge:

Hebrews 2:5 Now it was not to angels that God subjected the world to come, of which we are speaking. 6 It has been testified somewhere,
“What is man, that you are mindful of him,
or the son of man, that you care for him?
7 You made him for a little while lower than the angels;
you have crowned him with glory and honor,
8 putting everything in subjection under his feet.”
Now in putting everything in subjection to him, he left nothing outside his control. At present, we do not yet see everything in subjection to him. 9 But we see him who for a little while was made lower than the angels, namely Jesus, crowned with glory and honor because of the suffering of death, so that by the grace of God he might taste death for everyone.
10 For it was fitting that he, for whom and by whom all things exist, in bringing many sons to glory, should make the founder of their salvation perfect through suffering. 11 For he who sanctifies and those who are sanctified all have one source. That is why he is not ashamed to call them brothers, 12 saying,
“I will tell of your name to my brothers;
in the midst of the congregation I will sing your praise.”
13 And again,
“I will put my trust in him.”
And again,
“Behold, I and the children God has given me.”
14 Since therefore the children share in flesh and blood, he himself likewise partook of the same things, that through death he might destroy the one who has the power of death, that is, the devil, 15 and deliver all those who through fear of death were subject to lifelong slavery. 16 For surely it is not angels that he helps, but he helps the offspring of Abraham. 17 Therefore he had to be made like his brothers in every respect, so that he might become a merciful and faithful high priest in the service of God, to make propitiation for the sins of the people. 18 For because he himself has suffered when tempted, he is able to help those who are being tempted.

Wow! Far from teaching Limited Atonement the near context throws more incredible and incomprehensible stuff our way. Jesus made us perfect through suffering in order to call us brothers? Yes God is Sovereign. Jesus exercised his Sovereignty in being born of a virgin, suffering under Pontius Pilate, crucified, died and was buried. He was Sovereign in descending into hell and raising from the dead. And is now Sovereign at the right hand of the Father giving us his gifts through word, baptism and body and blood. All in order to call us brothers!

Now the challenge is yours my Calvinists. Put this into context to show it is for fewer than all. Or believe this good news and live in the peace it offers.

In the name of Jesus. Amen. †

Friday, July 16, 2010

Gifts of Assurance.

In times of trial and temptation we really need to look outside of ourselves for assurance of Our Fathers love and concern. We need some tangible witness that our sins are forgiven. Many groups of Christians today will look at experience in order to find evidence of these gifts. Some will look to the repeat of pleasant feelings or perhaps ecstatic gifts of tongues or healings which are not promised in scripture. Or will mistakenly think that good works are sufficient evidence of forgiveness of sin. God is fully capable to provide these feelings and gifts. It is true that good deeds happen although all tainted with sin. What we have, instead, are the promised gift of the Holy Spirit.

Romans 8:12 So then, brothers, we are debtors, not to the flesh, to live according to the flesh. 13 For if you live according to the flesh you will die, but if by the Spirit you put to death the deeds of the body, you will live. 14 For all who are led by the Spirit of God are sons of God. 15 For you did not receive the spirit of slavery to fall back into fear, but you have received the Spirit of adoption as sons, by whom we cry, “Abba! Father!” 16 The Spirit himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God, 17 and if children, then heirs—heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ, provided we suffer with him in order that we may also be glorified with him. ESV

We see that the Holy Spirit bears witness to us that we are children of God. Therefore as children of our loving Heavenly Father we can expect all things to be for our benefit even if suffering is involved. How do Christians, all of them, have this witness made sure in this veil of tears? By the sure and certain promises located in God’s holy scriptures. One thing is consistent within the entire Holy Christian church. Each of us are baptized into the Name of God upon entrance into it. Whether this happened as an infant in the vast majority of Christian traditions or as a confessing older child or adult the same promise is associated to being baptized.

1 Corinthians 6:11 And that is what some of you were. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God. ESV

Washed, sanctified and justified in the name of Jesus and by the Holy Spirit. This is tangible and objective evidence that one can reflect on in the deepest and darkest hours of temptation. This can never be taken from us by our sinful flesh, the world which includes false and erring brothers or by Satan himself. Baptism is not merely a one time long ago event but rather a continual renewing of the promises of God which is available at all times. When one evokes or hears evoked the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit we have available the recollection of that promise which was delivered to us personally. We were placed under the cross of Jesus in baptism. As a long standing practice many Christians will make the sign of the cross upon themselves. Some will say that is not commanded in scripture but should realize we are physical persons so physical actions will aid in driving home this promise as actually belonging to each of us. This is rejected in favor of a waterless baptism of the Holy Spirit. This baptism is found nowhere in scripture and is assumed for some come to faith prior to baptism. This is easily understood because of the older testament faithful who lived prior to Christian baptism instituted by Jesus. The day to day tragedy in rejecting the strong promises in baptism the Christian is left with nothing tangible to know he or she is a child of God. Instead one is left with a fading memory of a past decision he or she made and an ever searching for good works or ecstatic gift to prove faith.

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

Jesus’ desires that through proclamation that his Christians receive repentance and the forgiveness of sins. So from the outside resource of the voice of the pastor disturbing air molecules and having them bang into eardrums we know we have forgiveness of sins. The larynx, air molecules, eardrums and brains to properly interpret the vibrations the Holy Spirit witnesses with our spirit that we are the loved children of God. It should be no surprise that the Creator of all things can use matter to do his bidding. It seems ludicrous that some of the same Christians who will fight tooth and nail with atheists about God creating all things have a problem with the same Creator being comfortable with matter. Rather than trusting the firm promise of Jesus he or she will say it is his or her understanding or step of faith that secured forgiveness. And others will credit the great teacher he is who delivered the message. Christ have mercy!

Matthew 26:26 Now as they were eating, Jesus took bread, and after blessing it broke it and gave it to the disciples, and said, “Take, eat; this is my body.” 27 And he took a cup, and when he had given thanks he gave it to them, saying, “Drink of it, all of you, 28 for this is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins. 29 I tell you I will not drink again of this fruit of the vine until that day when I drink it new with you in my Father's kingdom.”ESV

The third way the forgiveness of sins comes to us objectively is in the Sacrament of the Lord’s body and blood. Notice how clearly we are to drink of the cup which is his blood for the forgiveness of sin. What wonderful joy it is to have such a gift and to know what is delivered in it! Again too many doubt the forgiveness of sins are delivered in the Sacrament. How tragic! To doubt our Savior’s clear words forces one to look elsewhere to know sins are forgiven. People will look somewhere to themselves such as feelings or a changed life. Yes the feelings of gratefulness are real but over time they will dim and sometimes be absent. Lives do change after coming to faith but when one looks at the perfect law of God and is honest he will have to admit he is still a strong sinner and cannot free himself.

In scripture we have strong promises indeed. The Holy Spirit is promised to be located in baptism and indwells the baptized bringing the forgiveness of sin. The Holy Spirit is also located in the word so that when it is preached faithfully not holding back on law for repentance or qualifying Gospel for forgiveness of sin the gift is delivered. And Jesus has promised to be located truly present, in a mysterious way, in the bread and wine of Holy Communion for the forgiveness of sin. Let us believe these wonderful promises and live in the peace they offer and deliver to us.

In the name of Jesus. Amen. †