Monday, October 30, 2006

For Whom Did Christ Die?

Yesterday in Romans 3:25 we saw that Christ was the means of satisfying God's righteous justice and wrath, that is, He was a propitiation for sins of the past. We might assume that He also took care of sins in the future.
And he is the propitiation for our sins: and not for ours only, but also for the sins of the whole world. 1 John 2:2
When the Apostle John wrote this, Christ had now died, resurrected, and ascended into heaven. We see something else here: Jesus provided a propitiation for the sins, not just of believers, but for the sins of the whole world. Does that mean that everyone receives that propitiation? No. In Romans 3:25 we saw that God only remitted the sin of those with faith in His blood.[1]

Does it seem clear to you from 1 John 2:2 that Christ was a propitiation for everyone, including unbelievers? And in light of Romans 3:25 that He satisfied His Father's righteous demands for everyone who ever lived? That seems like the plain reading of Scripture to me. And then I read these:

Jesus died for the ungodly.
For when we were yet without strength, in due time Christ died for the ungodly. Romans 5:6
Jesus died for all.
Who gave himself a ransom for all, to be testified in due time. 1 Timothy 2:6 For therefore we both labour and suffer reproach, because we trust in the living God, who is the Saviour of all men, specially of those that believe. 1 Timothy 4:10
Jesus died for the unbeliever, the apostate, the one who has permanently turned away from Him.
But there were false prophets also among the people, even as there shall be false teachers among you, who privily shall bring in damnable heresies, even denying the Lord that bought them. 2 Peter 2:1
Jesus died for me.
I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me. Galatians 2:20
Jesus died for you. Will you believe in Him alone for your salvation?

[1] "Remission" in Rom. 3:25, the word paresis, means "a passing over" or "overlooking." It hearkens back to the Passover in Exodus when the death angel passed over the home with the sacrificial blood of the lamb on the doorposts. God passes over those with faith in the blood of Christ.

Sunday, October 29, 2006

How Were People Saved Before Jesus Died?

Based on the chronology of the Old Testament, people lived c. 4000 years before Jesus died. Since Jesus died, we (us people) have lived around 1976 years. Before the flood, humans lived longer. They also had more children per family than what we do. I think we could safely say that twice as many human beings lived before Christ died than have since. How can we say that the substitionary death of Christ is the only way for anyone to be saved? Were they saved in a different way in the Old Testament times?

Romans 3:25 essentially point blank answers this question:
Whom God hath set forth to be a propitiation through faith in his blood, to declare his righteousness for the remission of sins that are past, through the forbearance of God.
Before Christ those who trusted in the coming Messiah were saved by His grace. They believed God's Word regarding salvation, which is the everlasting Gospel (Rev. 14:6). Those who believed in the Messiah, according to the revelation God gave them, put faith in the blood of the Lord Jesus Christ and their sins were remitted, that is, disregarded until they were declared righteous upon Christ's death. The Lord's death and shed blood propitiated (satisfied) the righteous justice of God. God remitted or passed over the sins of Old Testament saints based upon His forbearance.

Let's say that I owed a huge debt to someone whom I could not repay. However, I knew someone who I was 100% sure would pay my debt at some point in the future, so I came to the one to whom I owed my debt and asked for mercy based upon the reputation of the one who could and would pay my debt. Old Testament saints owed a debt. Jesus could and would pay the debt. The Father would remit their sins through their faith in the future Messiah, His Son. He would forbear, holding back His righteous judgment, until the day that His justice was satisfied by Christ's debt payment on the cross.

Monday, October 23, 2006

Embracing Unfairness

I've been involved with young people in education long enough to have heard the sentence: "That isn't fair." I've also found that when kids say that it isn't "fair," that they actually mean: "That isn't equal." They want people to be treated equally and it isn't going to happen; neither should it. I leave that for you to think about, but lest I digress, you should know that God is perfect in His justice, fairness, and every other like category. I say all of that up front before I ask the theme question of this blog: When Did You Sin? Yes, When did I sin, too?

You begin thinking back. Um, when I was in first grade I remember....Oh, but I think it was when I was three when I was in the baby pool and....maybe the first time I touched the socket when mom said No! None of the above. You sinned around 6000 years ago. 6000? Yes. I've got some 'splainin' to do, but just remember when I do that, God is always just and always fair. We're the ones with our hand in the cookie jar.

The explanation centers on Romans 5:12:

Wherefore, as by one man sin entered into the world, and death by sin; and so death passed upon all men, for that all have sinned.
OK, so which is it? Did one man sin or was it that all have sinned? Yes. So which is it? Yes. Yes, one man sinned and all have sinned. Death passed upon all men because when Adam sinned, everyone else sinned too. Every single person with human parents sinned in Adam when he sinned in the garden. The word "sinned" is aorist tense, that is, point action. Every single person sinned in the past at one finished point in time. The whole human race was ruined in Adam as its progenitor. 1 Corinthians 15:22 backs this up when it says:

In Adam all die.
Not because of Adam. In Adam. We all die in Adam. Bummer, huh? Let me explain further by considering Hebrews 7:8-10:

8 And here men that die receive tithes; but there he receiveth them, of whom it is witnessed that he liveth. 9 And as I may so say, Levi also, who receiveth tithes, payed tithes in Abraham. 10 For he was yet in the loins of his father, when Melchisedec met him.

Anybody have a problem with Levi paying tithes to Melchisedec in Abraham? I didn't think so. Headship isn't such a big deal when it isn't talking about you. This passage does help us understand this issue, however. Levi was in the loins of Abraham when Abraham paid Melchisedec, so that when Abraham paid tithes, so did Levi. When Adam sinned in the garden, each of us was in his loins, so that we sinned too. That's the point here.

And you don't think it's fair. I think you need to get over it. We aren't the ones who determine fairness. God does. And besides this, you should consider all of 1 Corinthians 15:22:
For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ shall all be made alive.
I don't like that in Adam I die. I do like that in Christ I will be made alive. You either like or dislike them both. If you reject the results of being "in Adam," then you reject the consequences of being "in Christ." All of us are Adam's race. You can become one of Christ's by placing your faith in Him. Romans 5:18, 19 says it like this:

18 Therefore as by the offence of one judgment came upon all men to condemnation; even so by the righteousness of one the free gift came upon all men unto justification of life. 19 For as by one man's disobedience many were made sinners, so by the obedience of one shall many be made righteous.

As Adam's sin was imputed to us because of the Fall, our sin was likewise imputed to Jesus on the cross and Jesus' righteousness is imputed to us when we receive Him. Because I have placed my faith in Him, not because of any merit of my own, but because of the finished work of Christ on the cross,

[I am] dead, and [my] life is hid with Christ in God, [so that] when Christ, who is [my] life, shall appear, then shall [I] also appear with him in glory. Colossians 3:3, 4

You know, when I think of it, that doesn't seem fair, that I could get all of that when I've not only sinned in Adam but a whole bunch otherwise. I think I'll just stick with unfairness after all.

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

Listening Skills

You SAT afficienados know that the "listening skills" category is on that test. Is there a direct correlation between brain aneurisms, blood pressure, strokes, hypertension, and listening? We have an attention deficit that dwarfs any national budget problems. It is ironic, but I don't remember it being like this. Here is another irony: in an age where young people don't pay attention, it isn't politically correct to scream. Young people don't like listening and they don't like being screamed at. What are we left with? Perhaps a mafia-esque kind of throaty whisper. That doesn't scare anyone any more either. It seems the only thing to get people to listen would be the very thing that would also get the attention of the Department of Homeland Security.

Do you ever feel like you are speaking to a different world in a different dimension of space and time? Your audience looks like they are listening to a different person. The person or people you are talking to look eager and enthused, but they unfortunately aren't in the same dimension of space and time as you. The communication barrier seems to be so high and wide that we need to tesseract to span it. We have an information superhighway, but regular conversation seems to be the Erie Canal. Point A to Point B seems to have some kind of advanced algebra between them or a Picasso painting. If I were only Scooby-Doo. If I were only a fly. Even a ball of string. Game-boy is too much to ask. All material cannot be made into stand-up comedy.

I know we've done this to ourselves. Actually, I think a whole lot of other people mainly did it. I had only a very small contribution. We've amused ourselves to death to go with the Neil Postman title. It isn't just the amusements. We've heaped the burden on the communicator. That puts a huge strain on school teaching, but school is required. Church can no way be like school and survive. England hasn't adapted so they have a huge unchurched population. Church must be entertainment at least. We've done that here in the U. S., explaining the mega-church movement. Want listeners? Got Powerpoint?

Saturday, October 14, 2006

The Lure of the Left

What makes the left so appealing? I'm not talking politics primarily. Stay here though.

Politics and theology relate more than most either understand or admit. I started writing this and divided things into theology and politics, and then deleted. I had to add a third category at least, that is, culture. You might add social, which is different than the three, and might make a fourth. The social has to do with how we solve unequal results in economics. There is a conservative way of dealing with those consequences and a liberal way. I'm going to leave it at three with this discussion. I personally don't separate the three. I believe a consistent world view sees life the same politically, theologically, and culturally. I have noticed that political liberals are usually consistently liberal in every category. Not conservatives. With them we find a few combinations of the three:
Conservative politically, liberal theologically, and liberal culturally.
Conservative politically, conservative theologically, and liberal culturally.
I'd like to think about the second category.

I'm a blogger. I write blogs. I read blogs. When I read those in the second category and then look at who they quote and who they link in their left or right hand columns, I find that they WILL NOT (or at least very seldom) quote or link to cultural conservatives. If they quote them, they normally do so with disdain. Usually, however, they simply ignore the cultural conservative.

One of the things that caught my attention on this was that I noticed the regular linking and quoting of a young man who was once a member of our church. We had to fire him as a teacher because of a virulent, destructive behavioural problem that affected his performance in a major way. He was extremely immature. After we helped him a whole lot, he pushed the eject button and moved away, looking for the greener grass. After moving away he trashed the church we recommended to him in another state. A year later he is a blogger. He spends hours and hours doing it. Through his techniques of blogging, he has developed a following in a matter of months. Understand that he has done nothing practically to merit respect, but now he is linked on major evangelical and "fundamental" blogs. They like what he has to say. He is conservative theologically and liberal culturally. None of these people linking him know his immaturity, his sin, his novice status, his bad testimony, or his character deficiencies, but they like what he writes on his blog, so he is a favorite. Culturally conservative men with good character and a history of faithfulness to God would never be quoted or linked by these evangelicals and "fundamentalists," but this young guy is. He takes the hottest cultural positions---booze OK, dancing OK, immodesty OK, most television and movies OK, and to him music is essentially amoral. He hardly misses a favored cultural liberalism among those theologically conservative. For that, he is mightily rewarded in blogdom. Even those who don't side with him, in every one of these cultural leftisms, will include him at their table. He has the compromise to make the connection.

I'm using this just as an example. I think it only represents something consistently occurring. This brings me to that original question.

What makes the cultural left so appealing? I added a word, but this was where I was always heading. Cultural liberalism. One could call the cultural left the lustful left. We all are allured by the dark side. It's fun. It feels good. It's easy. It actually allows a conservative either politically or theologically to fit into the world. You can get acceptance here (cultural liberalism) on earth and still get heaven (theological conservatism).

How do they justify all this? One interesting and amazing feature is that these guys often like to identify themselves with the Puritans and Spurgeon. Of course, the latter were cultural conservatives too. But it doesn't matter, "they're dead, so let's use them." They scoff at cultural conservatives like the apostates in 2 Peter 3, mocking while they walk after their own lusts, making space for their lifestyles. They don't argue Scripturally on these issues. They use mockery and ridicule, which are often effective, you may have noticed. The cultural liberal calls this unity. They say we shouldn't divide on cultural issues, only theological. They say that these cultural issues are second or third tier, so that those who separate on these issues are misguided and divisive. The cultural separatists, often called personal separatists, especially are spoiling their fun, what they call liberty to make it sound like something theological.

Much more could be said, but I understand the lure of the cultural left. I'm not going their way, but many, many are and in droves. My own opinion is that this is the major tool of apostasy today, this separation of theology from culture. The next generation of cultural liberals are theological ones.

Tuesday, October 10, 2006


I love the bald eagle among other bald things. You don't like hair growing out of your cue ball, do you? Some things are definitely better without hair, like leftovers in the refrigerator for one. Do you like hair sprouting on your cottage cheese? Perhaps I digress.

I guess I'll just tell you that I'm bald. You can stop giggling. And you, get that smirk off your face. Actually, I'm not completely bald. I have an island of hair near my forehead that is about done fooling anyone about coverage on the top. That I'm 6'3" has aided in keeping the charade going. Dwarfs know better now. I do warn anyone, however, wanting to check it out, that for their own safety they please wear some kind of eye protection against the reflected sunlight bouncing off its surface. I don't know why these two words just entered my head: Humpty Dumpty. You can park at the before-the-great-fall portion of his life.

I just read that bald is the new hair. Do you think so? Is someone with a weeble-like tuft of hair on the top better off cropping it, shaving it, buzzing it, clipping it, or hasta-la-vista-ing it? Is bald truly the new hair? Is the boldness of ridding myself of almost all of it better than keeping those crude reminders of days gone by? For trekkies, should I Picard my head? Or Jean Luc it? Or go Michael Jordan or Charles Barkley? Are there advantages to a blanket of hair wrapping around the sides with the fancy chrome bumper on top?

Remember Elisha. Remember the bears.

Saturday, October 07, 2006

On Paper or In Practice

Please don't confuse this with paper or plastic. That's, I'm sure, an important choice in some circles, maybe even more important than this blog topic, but those with that judgment would be wrong. I'm considering the connection or disconnection between belief and practice, or as some might say: Systematic Theology versus Practical Theology.

Everyone should know that Satan probably has the best and clearest doctrinal statement available. He probably could whip out a beautiful confession of faith. And based upon that, maybe he could even qualify for a mission board, since the doctrinal statement is a major feature of some boards for acceptance of candidates. What he wrote on paper, however, would strongly contradict what he actually believed and practiced. More is needed than a good theology.

This is a major point of the book of James, and expressed in James 2:14: "What doth it profit, my brethren, though a man say he hath faith, and have not works?" The answer to the rhetorical question: It profits him nothing. So having a doctrinal statement doesn't do it for anyone, especially Satan.

A person, in other words, can talk and write a good theology. He can pen or type out beautiful prose with accompanying references. People can read the words of someone and really be edified by them, assuming that they are true and right, completely Biblical. Is what someone writes or says the key matter in theology? James contended against that. Other epistles do as well. God obviously wants us to live it. To God, theology is what we live. It must be right, granted, but if it is right theology lived, then God approves.

Mr. Jason Janz, the owner/operator of his online corporation (by his own admission, not a ministry) called SharperIron, recently wrote this (it is the entire quote) at his business site:
To link musical style with view of God would mean that all those who use contemporary worship have a flawed view of God and theology (in your view). I'm just not willing to go there. This would then make John Piper whacked out on his view of God. In my opinion, he has done more to exalt a lofty view of God than any Christian author in the last fifty years.

Mr. Janz employs faulty logic here to argue his position. First, someone can say he has a view of God, but if hath not works, his view is dead. One's view should affect one's behavior. I'm not talking sinless perfection, but at least characteristic lifestyle that matches the written theology. Second, someone who offers God "whacked out" worship might have a strong doctrinal statement, but how he worships would be a better judge of his view of God. Ananias and Sapphira probably could have written a pretty nice statement of faith, but God struck them dead. Several of the kings of Israel could rattle off God's standards, but worshiped God in the high places. Right God, wrong worship.

The first step to worshiping the wrong God is worshiping the wrong way. Giving God something out-of-line with His character impacts the worshipers more than a doctrinal statement. Someone can preach a strong message that can be ruined by a lifestyle decision. This disconnect between paper and practice is a sinister ploy of Satan. People have long liked a nice talk with a crummy walk. To them its the best of both worlds. You get to be right and yet still get what you want. You get honor-to-God and self-indulgence all in one neat package. Of course, they are incompatible, but that is the danger of all this or the beauty, depending on your viewpoint. The crafty theologian with the orthodox and well-worded creed, who offers fleshly lusts which war against the soul, is everyone's favorite theologian. No wonder.

Tuesday, October 03, 2006

Gone Until At Least Friday

For blog readers checking back for something new---I'm in South Dakota with my son, preaching at a conference. We are quite busy, although I do have WIFI for this little note. I'll probably write something on Friday. Be well, one and all.