How to Reject the Gospel

The life of Jesus Christ, the time between His earthly birth and earthly death, is not part of the Gospel, according to 1 Corinthians 15, Paul’s summation of what the Gospel is.

Jesus Christ did not save us by His life, but through His death and resurrection. This is an important point, especially to those who think that the righteous deeds of Christ are imputed to us. I have discussed this issue in the past and disagree that Christ’s righteous deeds are given to us.

If they were, then man is saved by works, granted not his own works, but Christ’s works, and that seems a violation of many Scriptures to me. So, why all the space taken up in the Gospels dealing with the life of Christ?

1) It shows that Christ was indeed the spotless Lamb of God, even though most righteous people viewed Him as a sinner.

2) It shows God’s power on display through Christ, even though most righteous people chalked it up to other sources or merely wanted more proof.

3) It shows God’s love, patience and servanthood, even though most righteous people thought Christ was an arrogant, judgmental jerk.

4) It shows that Jesus Christ fulfilled the many prophecies of the Old Testament to a tee, even though most righteous people didn’t know the prophecies and skipped most to get to their favorite ones and concluded that Christ didn’t do those ones.

5) It shows exactly how most people will reject the Gospel just as they rejected Jesus Christ.

How Does the Gospel Work?

Essentially the Gospel is about death and resurrection. Christ’s death and resurrection is the pivotal piece. But many leave death and resurrection for Jesus and thus cut out the main point and efficacy of the Gospel.

Death and resurrection isn’t just something Christ did. Christ didn’t just die for believers, believers died with Him.

Our old man was crucified with Him with its affections and lusts
I am crucified with Christ
I am crucified to the world and the world is crucified to me

We will be also in the likeness of his resurrection
We walk in newness of life
Dead to sin but alive unto God
Yield yourselves as those that are alive from the dead

Christianity isn’t just something you tack on to life, like a membership to the Y. True Christianity is life in Christ. He died and all believers are placed in Him, so believers die too and all believers live again, just as He did.

This is amazing stuff. This reality is what separates the true believer from those who believe in vain. It’s the difference between the boy who plays tee-ball in the backyard and Ryan Braun. Both claim to play baseball. (And, no, I’m not saying Christians are on steroids.)

Understand that the Gospel isn’t just about Christ’s death and resurrection, it’s about yours too. If you don’t mind this life, you won’t want to die with Christ. If you can’t stand this world, then come to Christ and be born from above.

“Now if we be dead with Christ,
we believe that we shall also live with him”

Why the Gospel?

1 Corinthians 15:1-4 tells us what the Gospel is: Christ died for our sins, was buried and rose again.

Why did Christ die for our sins?

Because the wages of sin is death.

But why? Why is the wages of sin death? Perhaps the bigger question is, do you use “is” or “are” in that question? My gut says to go with “are” but I believe it is correctly “is” because wages is one thing. But then again, I’m a moron.

Anyway, the reason why sin results in death is because we must understand what sin is. Sin is not doing what God says. Faith comes by hearing God’s Word, whatsoever is not of faith is sin. Sin is not listening to God.

God created us. He gave us life. When we choose not to listen to Him we are telling our Creator, “no thanks” on life. We are choosing death. Our Creator, in His justice, allowed that consequence.

But in His mercy provides salvation. A chance for us to see our death and to desire new life in Him, to be born again.

Christ died for our sins–our sins bring death, He died the death of our sins. He was made sin for us and died their death. This is love. That is why there is a Gospel.

Lord Acton and Absolute Power

Lord Acton is best known for being the guy who said

“Power tends to corrupt,
and absolute power corrupts absolutely.”

It’s a brilliant quote proven right umpteen times.

Many apply this quote to totalitarian government assuming that was its intended target.

They would be wrong. The quote was uttered in response to the Catholic Church’s invention of papal infallibility. Acton was a Catholic opposed to papal infallibility and tried to muster support to squash the invention.

Lord Acton and his pithy quote failed, but his sentiment is correct.

What is the Gospel?

Best answer to this question is found in 1 Corinthians 15:1-4. The basic Gospel is in verses 3,4

“For I delivered unto you first of all that which I also received, how that Christ died for our sins according to the scriptures; And that he was buried, and that he rose again the third day according to the scriptures.”

Christ, God in the flesh, died for our sins. Died to the point of burial, in other words, dead dead. Then He rose again.

That being the case are all saved? No, because another essential aspect of the Gospel is in verses 1,2

“I declare unto you the gospel which I preached unto you, which also ye have received, and wherein ye stand; By which also ye are saved, if ye keep in memory what I preached unto you, unless ye have believed in vain.”

You are only saved IF you do something. That little word “if” is the biggest word in this entire passage, in my estimation. IF means a condition, something must be met. I will give you a cookie IF you clean my car.

IF you don’t clean my car, no cookie, plain and simple. You are saved by the Gospel, by Christ’s death for your sin and His resurrection, IF you keep in memory, or hold fast, the Gospel Paul preached.

To let go of it, to hold it momentarily, is to have “believed in vain.” To have believed to no purpose, emptied of all effect. We love to talk about Paul and his Gospel, but I’m amazed how little attention that word IF gets. It’s as if verse 1 and 2 aren’t in the chapter. In fact, most people citing this passage as an explanation of the Gospel begin their citation with verse 3!

What Christ did IS the Gospel, and the Gospel’s purpose is to save souls. You are saved by it IF you hold fast to it.

This is the Gospel, right out of Paul’s mouth. I hope it’s your Gospel too.

Inquisition Investigations

A sampling of heretical accusations investigated during the Inquisition:

“asserting that sexual intercourse with him was not a sin”

“claiming sexual intercourse with saints”

“saying mass and giving penance without being a priest”

“fraud, superstition, and unlicensed practice of medicine”

“seeking sexual intercourse with a woman by telling her that God had ordered it”

“hypocrisy, false visions, revelations, and miracles”

“officiating in the marriage of two dogs”

(taken from God’s Jury, p.152)

Why Did Jesus Die?

Theologically we know that Christ died for our sins. We know that He died because it was God’s plan from before the foundation of the world. We know He died to fulfill prophecy and the promises to many who came before. We know He died so He could demonstrate His power as God’s son by rising from the dead.

But why did they kill Him?

Jesus is not a Jewish version of Mr. Rogers, a really nice guy with a nice smile and well shampood hair. Jesus was a humble man, with no bodily features that would attract a crowd. He came to preach the Gospel to the poor and fellowship with sinners.

He blasted the religious, particularly their leaders. He violated their human traditions and pronounced impossible sounding commands. He hammered away at sin and yet seemed fixated on befriending the assumed “worst sinners” and damning the assumed “righteous.”

Jesus was nothing short of annoying. Every opportunity to annoy was taken full advantage of. He probably even ended sentences with prepositions.

He was not of this world and could care less about gaining the world’s esteem or the world’s stuff. He let government leaders slide by with nary a glance, even refused to talk to them when granted an audience.

He just didn’t care about anything except one thing: doing His Father’s will, which hardly anyone else cared about.

Jesus was annoying, that’s why they killed Him and that’s why He died. Read John 6-8 some time for a synopsis of His annoying nature.

If we are to be like Christ, why do we not stress the annoying aspects of His nature? Perhaps because we’re too far into the world to adequately pull it off anyway.

Edgardo Mortara

Edgardo was born in the Papal States in 1851 to a Jewish family. While suffering a childhood illness, he was baptized by a household servant. It was a violation of Catholic Law for a non-Catholic family to raise a child Catholic.

So the pope took him and raised him as his own son! At age 19 he chose to remain Catholic and became a priest.

This incident was part of what led to the eventual breakup of the papal states by military force. It did not go over well in the press!

McCarthyism, The Crucible and Moral Authority

“Theology, sir, is a fortress;
no crack in a fortress may be accounted small.”

–the Reverend Hale, The Crucible

The Crucible is a play about the Salem Witch Trials. In it, Reverend Hale is questioning some folks on their knowledge of the Ten Commandments. They miss one, adultery, and the quote above is the next line.

Presumably, if you don’t know your commandments you are letting sin in and obviously you are of the Devil. This quote can be used at least two ways:

1) Blind spots in theology can lead to error and may be a sign of immaturity at best or unbelief at worst.
2) The man who said this quote had the offending party killed. People who think we need to do everything God says and move to enforce it, are evil.

The Crucible was written as a critique of McCarthyism and is also used now in reference to the Patriot Act and Homeland Security. The quote is used to point out everything bad about an armed, powerful, moral mob.

If you are a fan of Church Hierarchy, you’ll lean toward option one for applying this quote. If you give heresy an inch, it’ll take a mile. Jump on the error, squash it, and remove offenders as quickly as possible. Preferably not by burning at the stake, but hey, you gotta do what you gotta do.

If you are a fan of liberty and opposed to authority in general and church authority in particular, you will lean toward option two in applying this quote.

I can tell you where I am, I lean toward option one!

However, I fear when option one is used to buck up human power structures. I like option one, except that anytime someone takes it seriously it ends in disaster. People who are convinced they have the right to enforce their morality on others are scary.

So, actually I lean toward option two! Morals should be enforced, but they need enforcement correctly and I’m not sure that’s possible. Human authority can never legislate morality, history proves that attempting to do so ends in disaster. Israel even proves that a theocracy can’t do it! I fear Christians being elected to office. Sarah Palin scares me. This is why Christians should be content that I don’t vote: I wouldn’t vote for your guys anyway!

I like order and structure, but I am not thrilled with those who want to impose their authority and structure on the world. I look forward to Christ’s rule, when all authority is placed under Him and righteousness reigns. Until then, rely on the Spirit.

Most Religious States in the Union

HT: Jesus Creed

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A couple observations:

1) Is there a link between more religion in poorer states?

2) Is there a link between more religion in states that score lowest academically?

3) Sure looks like the most religious states used to be called The COnfederacy!

Arrogant Truth

A blogger recently said that the reason why so many people don’t believe the theological system he believes in is because “people don’t like the truth.”

I commented on this by saying in part, “To go so far as to say that one group of people have an exclusive hold of the truth seems a tad overstated. The Word of God is the truth. No where does the Word state that a certain group’s view of Scripture is the truth.”

I was commented to like this, “Hopefully you believe what you believe is true. Right? If we walked around saying, “this is what I believe, but it’s not really true,” that would be a problem wouldn’t it?”

Several points:

1) Just because a person believes something to be true does not mean it’s true. People still believe the Cubs are a good baseball team.

2) I believe my theology is true, but would never go so far as to say it is “the truth.” Being a fallen individual I will not claim infallibility.

3) My theology has changed over the years and I assume it will change more as I grow. Many years ago I would confidently state that I had “the truth.” I now know better. Or do I?

This is an aspect of humility. I am convinced in my statements of faith that, as far as I can tell, based on the light I have, this is my understanding of God’s truth as revealed in the Bible. But I do not claim to have “the truth.”

This does not make me a postmodern, all truth is relative guy who forces humility to replace assurance, and wishy-washiness is a virtue. Nope, I believe God’s Word is truth. I believe I’m trying to figure it out and live by it.

I try not to judge others by how well they believe what I say, but how much interest they have in shaping their own theology and lives to God’s Word. To stop growth because you’ve all ready arrived at “the truth” in all aspects of theology merely shows ignorance and pride.

Ironically, the post was about whether people who hold this theological system were arrogant. Irony indeed. When you’ve confused your system with the truth, that’s arrogant.

UPDATE: Reading a book on The Inquisition where the author says “One factor in the making of an Inquisition: the conviction that one is absolutely right.”

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