Receipt Required

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For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son.” (John 3:16a, NIV 1984).

Without the shedding of blood there is no forgiveness.”   (Hebrews 9:22, NIV 1984).

He was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was upon him, and by his wounds we are healed. Yet it was the LORD’s will to crush him and cause him to suffer, and though the LORD makes his life a guilt offering, he will see his offspring and prolong his days, and the will of the LORD will prosper in his hand.”  (Isaiah 53:5, 10, NIV 1984).

Because Jesus lives forever, he has a permanent priesthood. Therefore he is able to save completely those who come to God through him, because he always lives to intercede for them. Unlike the other high priests, he does not need to offer sacrifices day after day, first for his own sins, and then for the sins of the people. He sacrificed for their sins once for all when he offered himself.” (Hebrews 7:24–25, 27 NIV 1984).

Whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.” (John 3:16b, NIV 1984).

My Musings – Focus on these two words – “so loved.”  Two definitions of so are:

  • To such a great extent – That He would sacrifice His only Son to save us.
  • And for this reason – He sent His Son into the world.

So, such a small word, such a large meaning.

Christ had to come into the word, to become flesh, because  “without the shedding of blood there is no forgiveness.”  Only a blood sacrifice will do.  But not just any blood.  The blood of God.

Pierced for our transgressions,” not His.  He was without sin.  He was God in the flesh, who became sin on our behalf.  God willingly crushed Him and caused Him to suffer, exacting the price required to exonerate us and bring us peace with God.

But death could not keep Him in the grave.  God is greater our sin and greater than the death sin brought with it.  He rose from the dead to live forever.  He had already been in existence forever, for He had no beginning.  From Creator, to Savior to High Priest.  A priest is a mediatory agent.  And Jesus is “unlike the other high priests.”  He does not need to keep returning to the Father with sacrifice after sacrifice.  When “He offered Himself,” no other sacrifice was required.  Because so (there’s that word again) “worthy was the Lamb that was slain” that the penalty for all of mankind’s sin past, present and future was paid for.

My Advice – For all of mankind means that “whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.”  Do you believe?  Your sins have been paid for, but you have to show the “receipt.”

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Want to become a Christian? See my blog series “The Born Again Experience.”
Want a closer walk with Christ? See my blog series “Got Spiritual Milk?”

What Seems Right?

Screenshot (1441)My Musings – In the movie Hondo (one of my favorites), John Wayne plays a scout for the U.S. Calvary in the old west.  A man with a clear sense of what is right, honest, and just and having little tolerance for what is wrong, deceitful or unjust.  There are many memorable lines in the movie, but one in particular stands out to me.  “A man ought to do what he thinks is right.”

Unfortunately, what we think is right is not always the best guide.  In a society where right is relative, the truth is tentative and justice is just “if”, what we think might not always be the best guide.  Sad that it has come to this.  But when we think about it for awhile, it really has been like that since the garden.  The forbidden “fruit” seemed so right, but was so wrong.

For a long time now, what has seemed right to man is, if the “good” in one’s life outweighs the “bad,” then things should work out okay for the afterlife.  But in many cases, what was once considered “bad” is now considered okay or depends on the circumstances.  So what standard should one use for determining if the “good” outweighs the “bad?”  Is it a different standard for different people depending when they lived and the standards that seemed right then?  Is it a different standard for different people depending on what seems right to them?

The reality is that there is only one standard.  We are all playing in God’s “sandbox” and He made the rules.  What’s more, the rules never change.  What was right, truthful and just in the garden is right, truthful and just today.  What was wrong, deceitful and unjust when God handed down the laws, are still wrong, deceitful and unjust today.  We couldn’t keep one rule in the garden and we can’t keep a multitude of laws now.  In fact, breaking one law, even the most “insignificant,” is the same as breaking all of them, even the most “egregious.”  How could that possibly work out for the “good” outweighing the “bad?”

The reality is they never could.  They were never intended to. There is “no one who does good, no not one.”  No matter what seems right to man, it will always lead to death.  What then is the answer?  It has always been about grace, extended to man only through Jesus Christ.

My Advice – Go for the grace.  You’ll never have to wonder if your “good” was good enough.  You’ll never have to worry if Christ’s good was good enough.  If it wasn’t He would never have risen from the grave.  But He conquered the grave, He conquered death.  As a result, He can offer life to all who will believe and receive.  Now that seems right to me.

 

Unambiguous Love

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My Musing – In English, the word love can be a bit ambiguous.  I love chocolate. I love my mate.  I love my child.  Same word, different types/degrees of love.  In this text, Paul chose one of the four Greek words that are all translated love in English.  He used the word agape, which is a selfless, self-giving and unmerited love that God shows to humankind in sending his son as a suffering redeemer. (Achtemeier, P. J., Harper & Row and Society of Biblical Literature. (1985). In Harper’s Bible dictionary (1st ed., p. 14). San Francisco: Harper & Row.).

Selfless – “God demonstrates His own love for us.” Demonstrate means to show or express (a feeling or quality) by one’s actions.  He was under no obligation to do so other than His character and being demanded it.

Self-giving – “Christ died for us.”  It doesn’t get more self-giving than that.  It doesn’t get more demonstrative than that.

Unmerited – “While we were still sinners.”  Rebellious offenders (sinners) of what God demands (sinlessness) merit nothing but judgment.  Yet God offers forgiveness.  It was not if you do this (clean up your act) for me, then I will do this (offer forgiveness and salvation) for you.  That would not be a demonstration of love, it would be a demonstration of justice.  Through the sacrificial death of His Son, God found a way to simultaneously demonstrate both His “agape” love and His righteous justice in one act of grace.  “You see, at just the right time [while we were still sinners?], when we were still powerless [unable to do anything to change our sinfulness], Christ died for the ungodly [deserving eternal separation from God].” (Romans 5:6, NIV 1984).

My Advice – Show our appreciation by accepting this free gift.

 

Why Do We Think The Unthinkable?

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My Musings – If God is a just god, . . . [fill in the blanks]?  There was a time when this sentence did not start with the word if.  It was readily accepted that God is just.  Times have changed, but God has not.  Actually, the sentence should begin with the word since.  Since God is a just God, . . . [fill in the blanks]?

Since God is a just God, He has (Jesus on the cross) and will (the Last Judgment) deal with sin and injustice that has occurred in the world.

For those who have accepted Christ’s atoning death, sin and injustice has already been dealt with, and He will (in the life to come) make up for all the suffering that they have had to endure.

For those who do not accept Christ’s atoning death, sin and injustice will be dealt with at the Last Judgment, and the suffering that they have endured in this life will pale in comparison.

Lest one should dare to say that God is unjust, it need not end that way.  Each and every one of us has the opportunity to avoid such a fate, only because God provided a remedy that is open to all.  He was not obligated to do so,  after all, we were the ones that chose to go our own way in the first place.  But He chose to.

But if one still wants to begin the sentence with if, the blanks should be filled in like this:  If God is a just God, why would He ever offer us grace?  Because justice and mercy intersected at the cross.

My Advice – Think about it.  Once we do think about it, it is indeed “unthinkable that God would do wrong, that the Almighty would pervert justice.”  God did not do wrong, He became “wrong” in our place in the person of HIs Son Jesus Christ on the cross.  God did not pervert justice, He perfected justice.

Treatment as Sons (Daughters)

Hebrews 12:7,8Endure hardship as discipline; God is treating you as sons. For what son is not disciplined by his father? If you are not disciplined (and everyone undergoes discipline), then you are illegitimate children and not true sons. (NIV 1978)

My Musings – There are two kinds of discipline. Discipline to bring correction and discipline to train and strengthen.

My Advice – As a Son, you will be disciplined. Welcome it as a sign of true “sonship.” Make sure you know which type it is and act accordingly: ask for forgiveness or ask to learn whatever lesson is being taught.

Study 5 – All Christians Believe God Is Just & Merciful?

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Romans 9:10-18Not only that, but Rebekah’s children had one and the same father, our father Isaac. Yet, before the twins were born or had done anything good or bad—in order that God’s purpose in election [choice] might stand: not by works but by him who calls—she was told, “The older will serve the younger.” Just as it is written: “Jacob I loved, but Esau I hated [rejected].” What then shall we say? Is God unjust [unrighteous]? Not at all [may it never be]! For he says to Moses, “I will have mercy on whom I have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I have compassion.” It does not, therefore, depend on man’s desire or effort [exertion], but on God’s mercy. For the Scripture says to Pharaoh: “I raised you up for this very purpose, that I might display my power in you and that my name might be proclaimed in all the earth.” Therefore, God has mercy on whom he wants to have mercy, and he hardens whom he wants to harden. (NIV 1984)

Romans 9:11-12 – This message shows that God chooses people according to his own purposes; he calls people, but not according to their good or bad works. (NLT)

Jacob & Esau (Twins) – Everything that could possibly be the same, was the same. Yet God chose one (the younger) and rejected the other (the elder), before they were even born.

The question is: on what is God’s election based?

Foreknowledge View (Arminian) – God’s election before anyone is born (form the foundation of the world) is based upon His foreknowledge of what man will ultimately do after they are born. Based on this prior knowledge God makes His choice (election), knowing what man will choose. Final decision is based upon a human choice, not upon a divine action.

Awkward Silence (Calvinism) – While the text says God chooses before man is born, and thus before man can do anything good or evil, it does not explicitly state that His choice is based on His foreknowledge. In fact, there is no text in the Bible that states that election is based on God’s foreknowledge. Calvinist view places significance on the fact that Paul not only states “before the twins were born,” but adds “or had done anything good or bad.” This emphasizes that it is “God’s purpose in election might stand,” and “not by works.” Foreknowledge is not relevant to “God’s purpose in election.”

The question is: does this mean God is unfair?

What Shall We Say, is God unjust? – God forbid (“may it never be!“! Injustice by God is unthinkable. Paul asks a rhetorical question and provides the answer to the anticipated objection that God is not being fair. The question of fairness is perhaps the greatest objection to Calvinist view. But Paul would not even need to confront this expected objection if God’s choice was made in view of His foreknowledge of what man would ultimately choose (Arminian). God could not be accused of being unfair if He was merely ratifying man’s ultimate choice based on His foreknowledge.  Nevertheless, God is not being unjust in exercising His “divine prerogative.”

Divine Prerogative“I will have mercy on whom I have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I have compassion.” Some receive a measure of mercy that others do not, but no one receives injustice. All are fallen and deserve judgment. Election is done in light of the fall (all are fallen) and not in light of good or evil choices down the road. God only chooses fallen sinners for salvation, but He does not choose them all. Man’s need for salvation is presupposed. There would be no need for election if man were not fallen. But all are fallen, and if God only gave justice no one would be saved.

God is not being unfair, but He is being unequal. We must be careful to not claim that God is not being merciful or gracious enough because He does not choose to show it to all equally. This implies God is not doing what He should (obligated to) do (that would be sinful). God is not obligated to be merciful. Merciful is not an obligation. It is unwarranted.  It is purely God’s voluntary choice. Considering what God’s mercy cost Him, who could possibly object to how, or to whom, He extends it?

Human Desire or EffortIt does not, therefore, depend on man’s desire or effort [exertion], but on God’s mercy. The Calvinist view is that this statement contradicts the Arminian view (depends on man’s choice, which God has foreknowledge of).

A final question: is God capable of hatred and hardening a sinner’s heart?

Hated & Hardened – Hatred (“Jacob I hated“), as it is used, here does not mean malice. It means absence of divine favor. God gives mercy to Jacob, but He withholds it from Esau. Withhold does not mean that God predestines people to sin (predestined to be damned). God intrudes and ensures salvation of the elect, but He does not ensure the damnation of the reprobate. He just does not step in to prevent it. Hardened (Pharaoh) means the same. God is not directly causing Pharaoh to sin. He merely withdraws His restraint and lets Pharaoh to do what Pharaoh wants to do anyway (evil).

Notes from: Chosen by God, R.C. Sproul

Disciplined With Justice

Jeremiah 46:28 – “Though I completely destroy all the nations among which I scatter you, I will not completely destroy you. I will discipline you but only with justice; I will not let you go entirely unpunished. (NIV 1978)

My Musings – God is gracious to us, even when we are disciplined. The ungodly around us (“nations”) He may completely destroy because of their refusal to accept His Son. But we are His children. He will correct us when necessary.

My Advice – Accept the Lord’s discipline, whenever it comes, as a privilege of being a child of God.