Sunday, August 29, 2010
Jesus At Work. Don't Be Angry.
Nothing will cause more anger among Christians than Jesus doing his Jesus job. One would expect anger from the Jews in Jesus’ day who had formed the idea of whom the Messiah would be and what he would be about. And one is right. Also one would expect the unbelieving world to be totally ticked at his actions. And one would be right about that too. Humans are, after all, in rebellion against God which is why we need a Saviour to reconcile us to God. But we are by nature unwilling to be reconciled and think it is God who has the problem and needs to be appeased. Such is the dilemma with the following section.
John 1:9 The true light, which enlightens everyone, was coming into the world. 10 He was in the world, and the world was made through him, yet the world did not know him. 11 He came to his own, and his own people did not receive him. 12 But to all who did receive him, who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God, 13 who were born, not of blood nor of the will of the flesh nor of the will of man, but of God. ESV
Two main groups of Christians are angry about this section. First we have the Arminians who teach that one must make a choice to believe. The first 5 verses indicate that Jesus came in the world to bring light to all persons, as creator cares for all creation, was rejected by the unbelievers and all one has to do is believe. If they even refer to the last verse is where the anger comes in. “It is not fair!” they will say because it is taught it is God’s will that saves the believer. Instead of rejoicing that Jesus is 100% Saviour in this salvation business they do not seem to want to get over the idea we have no part in our salvation.
The second group which get upset at it is our Calvinists. In order to protect God’s Sovereignty they will tend to either ignore the first verse or spend days trying to redefine what it means to enlighten everyone. After all how could Jesus be here to enlighten everyone if God has chosen some for damnation and others for salvation. The answer, of course, is that God has never chosen specific persons to be damned. At least one cannot find that taught in scripture when read in its entirety and plainly.
Rather than something about which to be angry this is another comforting section of scripture. First, for my Arminians. It is not up to us to make a choice to believe in Jesus. This is good. In dealing with the public one realizes a constant: People are forever changing his or her minds. It would be terrifying to trust one’s own choice or judgment in salvation. We have a cornucopia of salvation programs out there from which to choose. One is presented, believed for a time and than rejected when a more attractive program presents itself. True salvation was planned by God before the foundation of the world. It is delivered to us through his means of grace the preached word and the sacraments by which we receive faith and are maintained in the true faith. If one can get over oneself this is fantastic news.
For my Calvinists. It is great and comforting to know that Jesus did not make a special group for eternal damnation. That he came into this world to complete the requirements of the law, to die and pay for the sins of the entire world and resurrect for all of humanity’s justification. If Jesus came only for a limited group we would be cursed with always having to look inside ourselves to see if we have true faith or at our changed lives to know if we are truly saved. Whatever “truly saved” means. What a terrifying life to have to constantly question one’s salvation. On the other hand some will become comfortable with sin by minimizing the accusation of the law in order to have sufficient pious works to rely upon. Nothing is a faith killer like relying upon works to be saved or to know one is saved.
So much better it is to read in scripture about our wonderful Saviour who came to fulfill the laws demands for us. After the law fulfilled for us he bore our sins to the cross for us. And after going into death and the grave for us he resurrected for our justification for us. The much used for us in this last section was on purpose for that is the Gospel. For us men and for our salvation as is stated in the Nicene Creed written so many years ago to summarize the gift of eternal life. Let us believe this good news, live in the peace it delivers and not be angry.
In the name of Jesus. Amen †