So, I know this will be two Christmas posts in a row, and I’m sure some of you heathens haven’t gotten rid of your jack o’ lanterns yet.  But I looked at SoL today, and it seems that some are doing their Christmas whining a little early this year.  It seems it’s already time for the first volley in the annual war on Christmas!

In this post, we are told that are “our civil liberties have never been more threatened than they are right now”, and we are pointed to this press release from the Liberty Counsel.  So I might ask myself what liberties of mine our being threatened this holiday season?  The right to free speech?  The right to assemble freely?  The freedom of the press?  Nope…those are all good.  Apparently it’s the right to buy stuff from people who use the phrase “Merry Christmas” in their advertisements and in-store decorations.  I’m sure glad somebody is ensuring my right to be exploited by savvy retailers.  There’s even a “Naughty and Nice List” for your shopping convenience!

Somehow I have a hard time seeing how the idea of demanding our civil rights meshes with a holiday that remembers the way Christ came to earth.  By coming to earth, Christ gave up his rights, took on the role of servant to lowest people in society, and humbled himself in ways that still blow my mind.  Philippians 2 puts it this way (this excerpt is from The Message paraphrase):

Think of yourselves the way Christ Jesus thought of himself. He had equal status with God but didn’t think so much of himself that he had to cling to the advantages of that status no matter what. Not at all. When the time came, he set aside the privileges of deity and took on the status of a slave, became human! Having become human, he stayed human. It was an incredibly humbling process. He didn’t claim special privileges. Instead, he lived a selfless, obedient life and then died a selfless, obedient death—and the worst kind of death at that—a crucifixion.

So, in light of that, I think we ought not think of Christmas in terms of how we may protect our rights or who we may or may not buy more stuff from, but rather we should let this season be a reminder to us of what we are called to be in this world.  We are called to serve as Christ served.  We are to humble ourselves.

So, I pray that God gives us the wisdom and the strength needed to serve even those who seem to be our enemies this Christmas.

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309 Comments(+Add)

1   Brett S    
November 12th, 2008 at 11:02 am

Phil,

I’ve always found it ironic that the “defense of Christmas” seems to be lead by the always offended Neo-Puritan/Reformed/Discernment types. The roots of the “attack on Christmas” by modern secular types can be traced back to the True Christian/Puritans that are usually adored and championed by the Christmas defenders.

What about sending out “Christmas cards” with a text of Scripture on them? That also is an abomination in the sight of God. Why? Because His Word expressly forbids all unholy mixtures; Deut. 22:10, 11 typified this. What do we mean by an “unholy mixture?” This: the linking together of the pure Word of God with the Romish “Christ-mass.” By all means send cards, preferably at some other time of the year, to your ungodly friends, and [at] Christmas too, with a verse of Scripture, but not with “Christmas” on it. What would you think of a printed program of a vaudeville having Isa. 53:5 at the foot of it? Why, that it was altogether out of place, highly incongruous. But in the sight of God the circus and the theatre are far less obnoxious than the “Christmas celebration” of Romish and Protestant “churches.” Why? Because the latter are done under the cover of the Holy name of Christ; the former are not – from Christmas by AW Pink

2   Pastorboy    http://crninfo.wordpress.com
November 12th, 2008 at 11:52 am

The greatest gift ever given, to perform the most selfless act ever done for the most selfish race that ever existed. It reminds me of John 2, which I preached two weeks ago. The people in charge of the Temple allowed the Passover to become commercialized, and they especially exploited the poor. Fast forward 2000 years, and we enter into a season (some stores before Halloween) which is to celebrate the selfless act of the incarnation with the propagation of selfishness and greed. What is worse is that this commercialization of Christmas is entering into the church. It has gone from a silent and holy night to a night of Singing Christmas trees and seeker sensitive presentations to gather in the net of Cheasters and the dollars they bring to the coffers, not to mention high time for religious retailers to make their bucks.

A whip of cords, anyone?

3   Chris P.    
November 12th, 2008 at 12:28 pm

x-mas is occultic and pagan, the two true foundations of the western world.

Read Rev 18;Babylon is the consumer.

4   nc    
November 12th, 2008 at 1:00 pm

Yikes! What’s the world coming to?

I actually agree with PB.

5   Brett S    
November 12th, 2008 at 1:19 pm

It has gone from a silent and holy night

The night Jesus Christ was born may have been silent and holy; but December 25 is “The Feast of the Nativity” on a liturgical calendar whose feast day was 1st determined by a romish POPE.

Sincerely,
Devil’s advocate :)

6   Bo Diaz    
November 12th, 2008 at 1:59 pm

Could I please have some more regulations? No, no, I need more. I can still carry this load. Some more please? Ah, much better, I can’t stand under them now.

Will you help me? Can I just lean on you for a sec? Oh, ok then, how about a finger? Could up lift just a finger to help me bear up under this heavy load?

Oh, I see. No I understand. Ok, well, I heard there’s a potential convert over land and sea. Yes, well, I’ll see you later.

7   Neil    
November 12th, 2008 at 2:49 pm

x-mas is occultic and pagan, the two true foundations of the western world. – Chris P.

Maybe I’m naive, but it would be fun to have a serious discussion on just what makes something pagan. We’ve all used the days of the week as examples of something that is pagan in origin, yet doesn’t seem to be an issue…

So, just what are the criteria for what can and cannot be neutralized?

Neil

8   Phil Miller    http://pmwords.blogspot.com
November 12th, 2008 at 2:55 pm

The night Jesus Christ was born may have been silent and holy; but December 25 is “The Feast of the Nativity” on a liturgical calendar whose feast day was 1st determined by a romish POPE.

Well, the date of December 25 certainly does coincide with the ancient pagan holiday of Saturnalia, but it also is the date of Sol Invictus, which celebrated the birth of the Roman state-supported sun god. So there is a sort of poetic justice to celebrating the birth of the true king on that date in an act of defiance to the pagan holiday.

It’s also interesting the December 25 is generally accepted as the date that Judas Maccabeus cleansed the temple in 165 BC. So it’s an interesting coincidence that the date that is given for the birth of Christ coincides with an act that was known as a righteous warrior driving the forces of evil out of the house of God.

9   Brett S    
November 12th, 2008 at 3:38 pm

Phil,

Nothing will keep me from celebrating Christmas, whether it’s criticized for being pagan, commercial, secular or whatever. My point about December 25th was to point out the irony (or possibly hypocrisy) of Christian culture warriors that admirably defend Christmas, Easter, and maybe St. Patrick’s Day (depending on whether one finds green beer biblical or not) as high holy days; but disregard or condemn the Christian celebration of the Epiphany (Jan. 6th), Ash Wednesday, Pentecost, Corpus Christi, or St. Thomas More’s Day.
Those celebration days flow from the same source and for the same reason.

Not to mention the temporarily lifting of the ban against graven images, by placing a statue developed by a 13th century mystic right there on the front lawn.

10   Neil    
November 12th, 2008 at 4:10 pm

I also find it odd that ADM’s can both complain about churches (which are truly part of the Body of Christ) becoming too secular in style… yet also complain that society (which is truly secular and not a part of the Body of Christ) is fighting against celebrating Christmas.

11   Phil Miller    http://pmwords.blogspot.com
November 12th, 2008 at 4:45 pm

I also find it odd that ADM’s can both complain about churches (which are truly part of the Body of Christ) becoming too secular in style… yet also complain that society (which is truly secular and not a part of the Body of Christ) is fighting against celebrating Christmas.

Do you see the common thread there? They just love to complain, really. I really believe that many of them have a persecution complex, and they don’t really believe they’re being good Christians unless they’re experiencing some sort of resistance in every area of life.

The ironic thing is that this whole notion on some sort of backlash against Christmas is largely imaginary. Over 95% of Americans celebrate Christmas, and a lot of stores use the term. The fact is there are other holidays in the season, so from a marketing standpoint, why not go after people in the margins who don’t celebrate Christmas by saying “Happy Holidays” instead of “Merry Christmas”?

12   Keith    http://fivepts.blogspot.com
November 12th, 2008 at 6:55 pm

Brett S: That is why our family will be celebrating Festivus this year. Send me your name and address and I’ll add you to my Festivus Card list.

13   pastorboy    http://crninfo.wordpress.com
November 12th, 2008 at 7:26 pm

Another Festivus miracle!

14   pastorboy    http://crninfo.wordpress.com
November 12th, 2008 at 7:27 pm

I am ready to challenge for the feats of strength. I also want to be there for the airing of grieviences. I have issues with a lot of you people!

15   nc    
November 12th, 2008 at 8:39 pm

Frankly, arguments over church calendar issues are dumb.

the move to condemn festivals, etc. is really just a cosmetic move to help add more white paint to stinking tombs.

what a blankety-blankety-blank waste of time.

seriously.

;)

16   nc    
November 12th, 2008 at 8:40 pm

Phil,

To add irony to irony…

“holiday” is an english bastardization of “holy day”.

Happy Holy Days…

oy, where self-important moralism abounds.

17   Rick Frueh    http://judahslion.blogspot.com/
November 13th, 2008 at 12:23 am

Whining is now a blog art form. Without the sins of the world, coupled with the sins of the church, some would have little else to say. Complaining about the ACLU is oh so soothing to our our self righteousness, it makes us feel as if we are truly in the fray!

Christmas, who really cares? I feel about Christmas similarly as I feel about politics. No manger scene in front of the town hall? On no, the anti-christ has prevailed.

I sometimes wonder if authentic Christianity is even understood today. I will admit a source of humor that many times emanate from some blogs that hyper ventilate over everything, and in the “spirit of Christmas, attempt to spread the hyper-ventialtion joy.

Just to add to the hyperventilation cheer, I think I’ll go trick or treating on Christmas day!!

:lol:

18   Brendt Waters    http://www.csaproductions.com/blog/
November 13th, 2008 at 2:41 am

To borrow heavily from Phil, “Somehow I have a hard time seeing how the idea of demanding our civil rights meshes with” Christianity.

19   Brendt Waters    http://www.csaproductions.com/blog/
November 13th, 2008 at 2:45 am

From the Naughty/Nice list:

Disclaimer: We cannot always verify the current accuracy of all reports submitted to us.
Stores often change their actual or stated policies in response to inquiries.

Which being translated is, we may just be helping further a bunch of baloney.

20   Rick Frueh    http://judahslion.blogspot.com/
November 13th, 2008 at 6:54 am

“Disclaimer: We cannot always verify the current accuracy of all reports submitted to us. Stores often change their actual or stated policies in response to inquiries.”

Which is translated:

“This piece of gossip is so juicy and fits in so nicely with our overall theme that I just could not resist injecting it into your minds, even if it turns out to be spurious, slanderous, or even factually empty. I wish I had the time and integrity to research the validity of my “stories”, but my time is consumed with the ministry of trolling the internet for additional gossip, reading the gossip suggestion e-mails from my helpers, assessing the news alerts I have signed up for to forward gossip to my inbox, interviewing people who think like I do, and being a continual counduit to provide my readers with the freshest gossip from every corner in America. And remember, even if it is not true, it’s not my fault. It is a privilege to serve.”

Ahhh, Christian “journalism”, a refreshing drink of living water…

21   chris    http://agendalesslove.wordpress.com
November 13th, 2008 at 9:03 am

Man some of this crap reporting is easier to mow down than hitting a 3 year old with a Humvee.

22   nc    
November 13th, 2008 at 1:12 pm

Rick,

“a refreshing drink…”

too funny!

=)

23   Brendt Waters    http://www.csaproductions.com/blog/
November 13th, 2008 at 3:14 pm

I’d be mad that Rick one-up’d me, but that was more like ten-up’d. ;-)

24   Brett S    
November 13th, 2008 at 4:48 pm

Keith,

That is why our family will be celebrating Festivus this year

Aah, Festivus! I’ve been a little wary of asking some of my neighbors what they call this strange ritual. On the day after Thanksgiving they begin by erecting a statue in front of their homes to worship some strange goddess swaddling a young child. Apparently the ritual ends immediately at sunrise on December 26th, when the goddess is quickly removed and a dried up evergreen tree is immediately pitched to the curb. :)

25   Chris    http://agendalesslove.wordpress.com
November 13th, 2008 at 5:05 pm

And in true martyr fashion you can get all your proclamation materials about your martyr status courtesy of the Liberty Counsel for a mere $1.00 a button or .50 cents if you order in bulk.

“I helped save Christmas”

Man the hubris and twisted ideology are almost to much to take.

26   Phil Miller    http://pmwords.blogspot.com
November 13th, 2008 at 5:26 pm

“I helped save Christmas”

If I saw someone wearing that button I would go up and ask them if they knew Earnest…

(hangs head in shame for using that reference…)

27   Brendt Waters    http://www.csaproductions.com/blog/
November 14th, 2008 at 1:15 am

(hangs head in shame for using that reference…)

You can be proud, relative to me. I went and saw “Ernest Goes to Camp” three times in the theater.

I guess I could claim that it was just to hear Ashley Cleveland and Gary Chapman, though. But that’d be a lie.

28   Rick Frueh    http://judahslion.blogspot.com/
November 14th, 2008 at 8:24 am

“I helped save Christmas” buttons. It has now become impossible to completely verbalize the insanity that passes as “Christianity”. Those who attack the present culture have become as much a part of it as Miley Cyrus. Here are some Christian buttons I am producing, get your orders in while the supply lasts:

Help Eradicate Syncopation

Jesus is Conservative

The First Maverick was a German Monk

Women Watchman – The Change we Need

Moses to Paul to Washington

I Earned my Grace

A Merry Hardened Heart does Good Like a Medicine

Avoid Judgment – Judge Everyone Else

I Survived the Deception

Got Gossip?

** They come in Hubris, Large Hubris, and Extra Large Hubris.

29   Chris L    http://www.fishingtheabyss.com/
November 17th, 2008 at 11:41 am

OK, Phil, but I did find this funny:

And, like it or not, it describes a basic habit I’ve fallen into, anyway – I tend to go into shops which don’t have a problem calling Christmas “Christmas”…

While I don’t think we should see this as a civil-rights issue (’cuz it’s not), I do become a bit frustrated when I go to my fourth-grader’s “Winter Concert” mid-December, listen to songs from about 10 countries and 7 different religions, and the closest I get to a Christian/Christmas song is “Rudolph the Drug-Free Reindeer” [true story].

30   Rick Frueh    http://judahslion.blogspot.com/
November 17th, 2008 at 12:07 pm

Christmas was never meant to be celebrated and therefore any indignation about its compromise is Biblically unfounded. What if If I began a “Jesus’s Baptism” day and suggested we all give live doves in commemoration, and then it caught on in the world? And the world morphed into using parakeets instead of doves, and instead of John the Baptist they invented Bruce the Baptizer, would we get all upset?

We as believers participate in this holiday as it is set forth in “December”, we exchange gifts like the world, we decorate trees like the world, we wear “Christmas colors” like the secular world, we shop in the secular marketplace, and then we get all bent out of shape when the lost world doen’t retain the “Christ” core of Christmas.

Who cares how the world celebrates Christmas? Another hill that is littered with believers looking for things about which to be offended. The same community of “Christmas defenders” have no problem calling teenage girls “girls of Sodom” and lost gays as “homosexual thugs” which doesn’t seem to be in the spirit of Christmas! :lol:

I’m waiting for some of them to be visited by Jacob Marley!

31   Phil Miller    http://pmwords.blogspot.com
November 17th, 2008 at 12:09 pm

While I don’t think we should see this as a civil-rights issue (’cuz it’s not), I do become a bit frustrated when I go to my fourth-grader’s “Winter Concert” mid-December, listen to songs from about 10 countries and 7 different religions, and the closest I get to a Christian/Christmas song is “Rudolph the Drug-Free Reindeer” [true story].

I’m just glad to know that Rudolph is finally clean after all these years!

32   nc    
November 17th, 2008 at 5:11 pm

Rudolph got clean!?!?

Thank heaven! There’s hope for me yet…

but not quite yet…

I like my eggnog too much.

;)

33   nc    
November 17th, 2008 at 5:13 pm

I’d be interested in knowing if people are deeply offended that the Japanese culture goes crazy for Christmas…calls it Christmas…but less than 1% of them would identify themselves as Christians…

hmmm….

I guess the “name” of the holiday (i.e holy day) isn’t such a lynch pin to the spiritual health of a nation.

yeeesh…this perennial discussion is such a load…

34   Chad    http://www.chadholtz.wordpress.com
November 19th, 2008 at 11:27 am

check out this Advent Conspiracy by a friend of mine….

http://www.mendingshift.com/2008/11/19/our-little-conspiracy/

35   Pastorboy    http://crninfo.wordpress.com
November 19th, 2008 at 11:59 am

#34
Chad,
I think this is a great idea, but why not the concern for these people’s eternity?

It seems that we are improving or extending their life here, but what happens when these Muslims, Pantheists, Panentheists, Athiests, etc. die after their clean water extended lives?

I think we need both-I think as we give them the water, we should give them living water. We should make sure we are spreading the Gospel as we give. This well purchase would give us a platform, no?

Of course, many people of the emergent bent believe everyone is going to heaven, or that heaven is in them, so we need to only be concerned with social justice, food, and water. We need to improve life here. I think the most important thing is to prepare people for the reality that all of us will face eventually- death.

36   Chad    http://www.chadholtz.wordpress.com
November 19th, 2008 at 12:05 pm

Love shouldn’t have an agenda, PB.

People can’t hear our proclamation of Good News (and that Good News need not contain their damnation) over the growling of their stomachs or the cracking of their lips.

I hate it when Christians talk about helping people only insofar as they are then going to “convert” them. It is not the way of Jesus.

Tell me: When they reject your Christ will you stay with them to feed them and give them water or move on to someone else who might listen to you? Will you be willing to die just so that they can have some water to drink even if you knew they would never accept your God?

37   Chad    http://www.chadholtz.wordpress.com
November 19th, 2008 at 12:06 pm

but why not the concern for these people’s eternity?

Also, this question ENTIRELY misses the point. It is this question, IMO, that has made the Church irrelevant and gutted it from it’s root in Jesus Christ as the Messiah of Israel.

38   Chad    http://www.chadholtz.wordpress.com
November 19th, 2008 at 12:16 pm

I think the most important thing is to prepare people for the reality that all of us will face eventually- death.

The entire testimony of Scripture disagrees with this statement. No one is evangelizing to get people ready for death. Death has been defeated. Death no longer has its sting. It is no longer something to be feared.

Rather, since death no longer has its power over us we can live in the present in the fullness of the image of God (living as a people mediated by Jesus Christ).

I cannot think of a single instance in the Bible where people proclaimed Christ as a means to prepare someone for their death and an eternity in heaven. No one was saying “accept Christ so you can go be in heaven one day after you die.”

39   Pastorboy    http://crninfo.wordpress.com
November 19th, 2008 at 12:39 pm

36-38
Chad,
Clearly, I did not communicate well, or else your reading is not very generous. I will take responsibility.

In the military, we are told that the last order is the one to be followed should we be disconnected from command. Jesus’ last command: go ye into all the world, making disciples, baptizing them in the name of the Father Son and Holy Spirit, and teaching them all I have commanded you.

When we look to Jesus by faith, we are transformed at that point, entering into a life with God. We follow Him, do works that are evidence of our repentance and faith, and have entered into the inheritance. When we die, we are the beneficiaries of an eternity with God.

If a person is never born-again, then they cannot enter into the kingdom of God in the present tense or the future tense. They cannot be justified or redeemed in the present, nor will they be sanctified in the present or future, nor will they be glorified when they die. Chad, your Universalism is showing through!

Certainly, if a person is thirsty we should give them a drink, hungry, we should feed them. But that is not all we should do. If I were to participate in a well project, it would be my gift to the community, but, in installing it, I would preach the Gospel. I would certainly not think it enough to donate money. I would certainly not remove the well or the food if they did not obey the Gospel. I would just take advantage of every opportunity. I do not give money to homeless people, rather, I take them to a meal. At that meal, I share the Gospel with them. That is an illustration of what I am talking about on a broader scale. Preach the Gospel, and give water and food in the name of Jesus.

40   Rick Frueh    http://judahslion.blogspot.com/
November 19th, 2008 at 1:17 pm

“It is not the way of Jesus.”

I would disagree, it is the ONLY way of Jesus. The announcement was that this day is born a Savior, all the other ministries of Christ are eternally tethered to redemption. We must show the love of God through deeds, but God’s love must always be shown through the cross as well. I would feed a person who I knew wasn’t going to be saved, however I would still do it in Jesus’ name and in view of redemption.

Jesus came to die and His ministering to earthly needs was in concert with that calling. If we remove the cross as the basis for our compassion we remove Christianity. A muslim can feed people, a Satanist can feed people, but a believer must feed people on the wings of the everlasting gospel.

Not as a “scalp” mentality, but as an expression of eternal compassion.

41   Paul C    http://www.themidnightcry.com
November 19th, 2008 at 1:26 pm

Jesus came to die and His ministering to earthly needs was in concert with that calling.

I would go even further and say that Christ attempted to downplay his ministering to earthly needs at times, to ensure that the more important elements remained in the forefront – eternal salvation through Him. Read the book of Mark and see how many times Jesus told people not to tell anyone about the miracle He did for them.

I think there’s a fundamental problem here.

Chad seems to believe that everyone is already a-OK (saved) and just don’t know it yet. He believes death is no longer a human threat and has no sting. If you believe this, it thwarts your views completely and pushes the importance of proclaiming the gospel to the backburner.

I agree with PB and Rick: the two can go together (good works and proclaiming).

I would also add that, having lived in Africa for some time, in a poverty-stricken area, the greatest need is spiritual. It does not mean that there are not other very legitimate needs, but we shouldn’t relegate the proclaiming of God’s word to second fiddle.

42   Paul C    http://www.themidnightcry.com
November 19th, 2008 at 1:30 pm

Death has been defeated. Death no longer has its sting. It is no longer something to be feared.

This is only for those who have received Jesus Christ as their Saviour. If they have not then death should be feared and still has its sting.

43   nc    
November 19th, 2008 at 1:46 pm

I think Chad is saying that the proclamation that “death has been defeated” is part of the substance of the Gospel proclamation…not an “either/or”.

is that fair, Chad?

44   nc    
November 19th, 2008 at 1:47 pm

Isn’t part of the Good News that though I am unacceptable, I have been accepted?

this is the essence of justification…

This is what the work of Christ reveals and establishes, no?

45   Rick Frueh    http://judahslion.blogspot.com/
November 19th, 2008 at 1:49 pm

From my understanding Chad is sometimes a little slippery.

“That’s very slippery of you, Agent Starling.”

46   Paul C    http://www.themidnightcry.com
November 19th, 2008 at 1:51 pm

Isn’t part of the Good News that though I am unacceptable, I have been accepted?

Yes, but to be clear… the Good News is that those who accept Christ, even though they were acceptable, can be adopted into the family of God.

If a person repents, receives the gospel, and continues in the faith (no, not being perfect and sinless), then their salvation is assured. It means accepting Christ as their personal Lord and Saviour.

47   nc    
November 19th, 2008 at 1:54 pm

isn’t adoption into the family of God the same thing as “being accepted”?

just a different way of saying it?

or are you saying that I must accept that I am accepted?

48   Paul C    http://www.themidnightcry.com
November 19th, 2008 at 2:09 pm

nc – what I am saying is that if a person does not believe in Christ, then they are NOT adopted into the family of God, and are not saved.

The good news is that Christ came as an offering for our sins and that as many as receive Him, He gives them power to become the sons of God (ie: saved). That’s why the disciples were commanded to go out and preach the good news – you do not have to die in your sins, you can receive Christ and have eternal life through Him.

I think the problem is that Chad seems to promote that everyone is saved and just don’t know it yet… in fact, even if they don’t fully acknowledge it, they’re still OK because God’s grace covers it all.

49   Chad    http://www.chadholtz.wordpress.com
November 19th, 2008 at 2:30 pm

Amazing-
Put a link up about making those whose lives are hell a bit more humane and the first thing people do is argue over how many Bibles you will ensure they read.

I’ll address the above comments after class here…gotta run for now.

peace.

50   Phil Miller    http://pmwords.blogspot.com
November 19th, 2008 at 2:41 pm

The thing that’s a sticking point to me is that the Gospel isn’t just about sharing the message in words, it’s about sharing the message in word and deed. If someone simply told a starving and thirsty child that Jesus loves her and will give her eternal life, but did nothing to help her thirst and her hunger, that person has not shared the whole Gospel.

The problem is that some Christians believe they have, thus creating a Gospel that is largely powerless and little more than a fire insurance policy that allows us to live our lives however we want while the rest of the experiences hell on earth.

Personally, I tend to think that God may be more merciful to a Muslim who exhibits charity toward a poor person than a Christian in America who thinks he is sharing the whole Gospel by simply preaching.

51   Pastorboy    http://crninfo.wordpress.com
November 19th, 2008 at 2:42 pm

#49
Actually their lives on earth are but a shadow of Hell, for there will not even be dirty water in Hell to quench their thirst.

No one is saying how many Bibles that they must read, they are saying it is our Christian duty to share the good news as we are giving them drink, feeding them, and building houses. We don’t want our humane efforts to be only for making them comfortable while they live. We want our efforts to have eternal value.

52   Paul C    http://www.themidnightcry.com
November 19th, 2008 at 2:43 pm

Chad strikes again with another misstatement…

I don’t think anyone was disputing the importance of your friends venture. I was simply reading your comments after the link, in your interaction with PB.

Please don’t make this into something it’s not. Meeting people at their point of need is important and what Jesus did – both physically and spiritually.

One hill I am willing to die on though is that people in Africa’s interior, regardless of mother tongue, must first become conversant in King James English before they can be accepted in the family of God. (jk Chad)

53   Paul C    http://www.themidnightcry.com
November 19th, 2008 at 2:46 pm

Yes Phil – words and deeds go hand-in-hand. Really, this shouldn’t be a point of issue amongst us.

The only disconnect is when we think ONE or the OTHER is suitable. The parable of sheep and goats shows the criteria by which we will be weighed. The gospel – the “cure for cancer” (sin) – is also our obligation and our joy, to be shared with all who will hear.

54   Pastorboy    http://crninfo.wordpress.com
November 19th, 2008 at 2:47 pm

50
No, Phil

I tend to think that God may be more merciful to a Muslim who exhibits charity toward a poor person

This is an anti-biblical rumination. God does not have mercy on us because of the good works we do. God has demonstrated by sending his Son to pay our fine, and grace by giving us this gift we do not deserve. We are not given mercy based on works we do outside of salvation in Christ. In Christ, there is nothing more we can add to salvation, but then our works in the name of Christ bring glory to God.

We need to do both; because we love God, and because we have been saved, we need to love our neighbors by sharing our faith and, to those in need, we need to lend aid, not for our glory, but to the glory of God.

55   Paul C    http://www.themidnightcry.com
November 19th, 2008 at 2:58 pm

So – I think we all agree on the importance of words and deeds going hand in hand… that’s not being disputed.

Where we disagree is that some think ALL are saved and don’t know it yet, even if they don’t repent, and others believe (I think correctly) that a person must believe, repent and disassociate from a life of sin.

We also disagree on the concept of Hell (but we can leave that for another post).

PB brings up an interesting point: oftentimes many works are done to be seen of men (ie: blog postings, PEACE plans, etc.). I’m sure I’ve been guilty of this as well.

I am not a RW basher at all, but it is interesting to note that he is ignorantly being used by the Rwandan government (Paul Kagame), while the Rwandan government uses its resources to fund a war effort in Congo. On the surface, the PLAN looks pretty tame, but in effect, it is acting as a vehicle of sorts to free up resources to kill people in a neighbouring country.

While receiving aid with one hand and a smile (not just from Warren, but from foreign govts), the other hand is being used to club adversaries to death.

I wonder if anything is being done to curb this at all?

56   Phil Miller    http://pmwords.blogspot.com
November 19th, 2008 at 3:00 pm

This is an anti-biblical rumination. God does not have mercy on us because of the good works we do.

But He does judge us according to our works, and judgment begins in the house of God. So overall, I don’t think the church is lacking in the amount of message its getting out. Heck we’ve been sticking John 3:16 on billboards, barns, and every trinket we can think of for years now. If it were simply a matter of hearing the Gospel, America and a lot of the world be Christian already.

God wants the Gospel to change Christians, too.

57   Pastorboy    http://crninfo.wordpress.com
November 19th, 2008 at 3:05 pm

56
And I would add that if the man has not been changed and transformed, they have not obeyed the Gospel.

58   Paul C    http://www.themidnightcry.com
November 19th, 2008 at 3:25 pm

God wants the Gospel to change Christians, too.

Great point. In many ways, the gospel has been reduced to a verbal assent which is fruitless. And you are right as well in that we will be judged according to our works. Again, there are numerous parables that outline the absolute necessity of fruit being produced in a person’s life (ie: Christ cursing the barren fig tree, the parables of talents/pounds, sheep/goats, etc).

I have high admiration for those who labour in obscurity and will never be known, much less lifted up, in this life.

What Jesus said is true: when He returns many that (we think) are first will be last, and the (ones we deem) last first.

59   Eugene Roberts    http://eugeneroberts.wordpress.com
November 19th, 2008 at 3:46 pm

I would like to ask that we rather focus on what Chad’s friend is suggesting we do during this Christmas, encouraging each other to do the good works we are called to by the Father, rather than getting bogged down in arguments on who is saved or not. Chad and Pastorboy have discussed and argued about this before and no one’s mind is gonna change about it by arguing about it some more. So lets encourage each other to live like Christ wants us to this Christmas.

60   Pastorboy    http://crninfo.wordpress.com
November 19th, 2008 at 3:49 pm

59
Amen Eugene!

I encourage all of you to proclaim the incarnation of Christ to all people, whether they are saved or lost.

I encourage you to give to people who are less fortunate than us.

61   Chad    http://www.chadholtz.wordpress.com
November 19th, 2008 at 4:17 pm

I won’t beat a dead horse. Eugene, good advice.

I do have more to say on this subject, however, and will be writing it up on my blog where I have also linked to the above “Conspiracy” post by my friend. This discussion came up in my precept just last hour and was interesting to say the least.

Basically, PB (and Paul C) you continue to minunderstand universalism and it is wearisome to try to explain to you (again) something that only isn’t that hard to grasp but is, quite frankly, the most gloriously good news of all. Your posts demonstrate that for you, grace is not really grace but contingent upon works and that salvation is something you own and desire to give to others (making you “lord”) while also reducing salvation to the eternal realm (after death).

All of that I would deny as being part of “gospel.”

Phil hit the nail on the head when he suggested that in the very gesture of sharing food or water with “the least of these” we are in fact proclaiming the Good News.

peace.

62   Paul C    http://www.themidnightcry.com
November 19th, 2008 at 4:29 pm

Chad – just to understand, are you a proponent of universalism?

Also, how is grace, as I understand, not really grace at all?

Was Jesus graceless when He said:
“This time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand: repent and believe the gospel.” (Mark 1:15)

Or the disciples:

“And they went out, and preached that men should repent.” (Mark 6:12)

Or, on the day of Pentecost, after being asked what they must do to be saved:

Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins… For the promise is unto you (Jews), and to your children, and to all that are afar off, even as many as the Lord our God shall call.” (Acts 2:38-39)

Not sure I understand your point…

63   Chad    http://www.chadholtz.wordpress.com
November 19th, 2008 at 4:38 pm

Chad – just to understand, are you a proponent of universalism?

Paul, I have answered this too many times to count. So rather than explain it again I will simply answer yes and let you wonder what that means and make you happy that you can add one more person to yet another category which lets you know who is “in” or “out.”

Also, how is grace, as I understand, not really grace at all?

When you make what God has done in Jesus Christ a transaction that is primarily if not only about where the effects of one where spends eternity and then make that destination dependent upon one’s mental assent to the work you do as the proclaimer than you have turned a gospel of grace into a gospel of works.

Indeed we must repent else we do not have life. That does not negate anything I have just said. :) When you figure that out you won’t have to ask someone if they are a “proponent of universalism.”

peace.

64   Chad    http://www.chadholtz.wordpress.com
November 19th, 2008 at 4:39 pm

oops! Typed too fast…the paragraph above should be the following…

When you make what God has done in Jesus Christ a transaction that is primarily if not only about where one spends eternity and then make that destination dependent upon one’s mental assent to the work you do as the proclaimer than you have turned a gospel of grace into a gospel of works.

65   Jeromy    http://mendingshift.com
November 19th, 2008 at 4:41 pm

Pastorboy, there are some who have commented to you regarding the comment you left at A Mending Shift. Thought you’d like to know so you can reply to them if you’d like: http://www.mendingshift.com/2008/11/19/our-little-conspiracy/#comment-3049

66   Paul C    http://www.themidnightcry.com
November 19th, 2008 at 4:48 pm

Chad – you shouldn’t judge so harshly. I am not trying to determine who’s in or out. Not my role.

If I understand you right that repentance is necessary for one to receive life in Christ and be saved, then we don’t have much of an argument on this point.

As was said above, sometimes you can be quite slippery, hence the need to get where you’re coming from.

67   Pastorboy    http://crninfo.wordpress.com
November 19th, 2008 at 4:52 pm

Chad,

I did not come out and say you were a universalist, I said it sounds like a Universalist idea.

Simple yes or no: are you saying that all are saved already because of the death of Christ?

Simple question: Why did Christ have to die?

If Christ died for the whole world, and everyone is saved, then the bast thing we can do is make sure everybody on earth is comfortable. It only seems logical.

68   Chad    http://www.chadholtz.wordpress.com
November 19th, 2008 at 4:53 pm

If I understand you right that repentance is necessary for one to receive life in Christ and be saved, then we don’t have much of an argument on this point.

True. But I suspect based on your comments here and in the past that you and I have a very different understanding of what it means to be “saved.”
To be blunt: The African woman drinking the piss water is “saved” in Jesus Christ whether you, me or the man on the moon ever gets to her to tell her about Jesus.
That’s the Good News.

As was said above, sometimes you can be quite slippery, hence the need to get where you’re coming from.

The “need”? Why would that be necessary if you don’t care about putting people into categories?

69   Pastorboy    http://crninfo.wordpress.com
November 19th, 2008 at 4:58 pm

To be blunt: The African woman drinking the piss water is “saved” in Jesus Christ whether you, me or the man on the moon ever gets to her to tell her about Jesus.
That’s the Good News.

No, the good news is that we are dead in trespasses and sins, but Christ paid the penalty through His death on the cross so that we could go from the kingdom of darkness to the kingdom of God.

Whatever kind of water we drink, our need is forgiveness of sins. Drinking piss water does not bring one into the kingdom of heaven.

Man, Why spend hundreds of thousands of dollars just to get more foolish at Duke Divinity? A Child can understand this…sheesh…

70   Chad    http://www.chadholtz.wordpress.com
November 19th, 2008 at 4:59 pm

Chad,

I did not come out and say you were a universalist, I said it sounds like a Universalist idea.

PB, post 39:

Chad, your Universalism is showing through!

Simple yes or no: are you saying that all are saved already because of the death of Christ?

No. Because of the resurrection of Christ.

Simple question: Why did Christ have to die?

Who said he had to? :)

But seriously, and simply put, he died to break the bonds of sin and death – willingly, I might add.

If Christ died for the whole world, and everyone is saved, then the bast thing we can do is make sure everybody on earth is comfortable. It only seems logical.

Not if you have the love of God in you. We have only learned how to truly love because Christ first loved us. Don’t confuse making the world “comfortable” with making disciples and praying “thy Kingdom come, thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.” We have work to do as those who have moved from darkness into light – Kingdom work.

71   Chad    http://www.chadholtz.wordpress.com
November 19th, 2008 at 5:02 pm

PB-

No, the good news is that we are dead in trespasses and sins, but Christ paid the penalty through His death on the cross so that we could go from the kingdom of darkness to the kingdom of God.

Bravo! Now you are getting it!

Whatever kind of water we drink, our need is forgiveness of sins. Drinking piss water does not bring one into the kingdom of heaven.

Shoot. Now you lost it. Whoever said that the kind of water you drink is what saves you? That’s ridiculous. Come on, PB.

Man, Why spend hundreds of thousands of dollars just to get more foolish at Duke Divinity? A Child can understand this…sheesh…

lol.

72   Rick Frueh    http://judahslion.blogspot.com/
November 19th, 2008 at 5:13 pm

You have made faith irrelevant. How can they believe unless they hear. And I am not sure why Israel was “cut off” if personal faith in Christ was not an important issue.

In order to teach universalism (everyone is already saved) many linguistic gymnastics must be accomplished since the entire New Testament clearly makes a distinction between the lost and saved, even though the epistles are written to the saved.

73   Chad    http://www.chadholtz.wordpress.com
November 19th, 2008 at 5:24 pm

You have made faith irrelevant.

Rick,
How so? On the contrary, all I have done is rejected the false idea that “faith” is nothing but a mere tool by which we gain entrance into some life after death. I would argue that some people’s view of faith is impotent because they reduce it to one aspect of salvation and the aspect least talked about in all of scritpure.

Faith is extremely relevant in that it is by faith that we are saved. The question is, what is salvation? If salvation is all about going to heaven one day than yeah, in that view faith would be irrelevant.

74   Paul C    http://www.themidnightcry.com
November 19th, 2008 at 5:30 pm

Rick – I see what you mean by “slippery.”

75   Rick Frueh    http://judahslion.blogspot.com/
November 19th, 2008 at 5:30 pm

“The question is, what is salvation?”

Two thousand years later and we still don’t know. When you have lived a life as had I, and when you come to Christ at age 23, and when you were searching for eternal meaning, you know what salvation is before you become familiar with the New Testament.

Salvation isn’t all about eternal life, but that is where it begins.

76   Chad    http://www.chadholtz.wordpress.com
November 19th, 2008 at 5:46 pm

Two thousand years later and we still don’t know. When you have lived a life as had I, and when you come to Christ at age 23, and when you were searching for eternal meaning, you know what salvation is before you become familiar with the New Testament.

Salvation isn’t all about eternal life, but that is where it begins.

Well, I am sure you would agree that we do not want to define salvation by our own personal experience. What if someone had a different experience than you, Rick? Is it invalid?

So lets not start there. Obviously not everyone can agree on what salvation means. For some it means nothing more than a ticket to some disembodied heaven after one dies and an eternal hell of torment for others.

In truth, scripture has a very multi-faceted view of salvation and little (in fact, hardly any!) of it has to do with life after death. While an eternity with our Creator is certainly part of our salvation it does not capture salvation in total – not even close.

Calvin summed up the Gospel with this: You have been saved, therefore, repent! He nailed it. The Good News is that we were all saved on a hill called Calvary around 33 A.D. Therefore, live as one who is saved – die to self and live in Christ (and that means a whole bunch of stuff not worth getting into here). Be reconciled to the one who has already reconciled you and become ministers of reconciliation to the world.

I praise God that you saw in Christ eternal life. My take on that is that in seeing “eternal life” you are in effect seeing the world for the first time through the eyes of the God who loved you enough to save you 2000 years ago before you even knew his name. You were saved before you realized it – which makes the realization all the more mind blowing and all the more “eternal.”

77   Rick Frueh    http://judahslion.blogspot.com/
November 19th, 2008 at 6:24 pm

My experience mirrored the Scriptures, that is what I measured it by. I find your “interpretation” as uncomfortably expansive and outside the normal understanding.

78   Eugene Roberts    http://eugeneroberts.wordpress.com
November 19th, 2008 at 8:39 pm

The dead horse seems… … … deader! :roll:

79   Chad    http://www.chadholtz.wordpress.com
November 19th, 2008 at 8:46 pm

I find your “interpretation” as uncomfortably expansive and outside the normal understanding.

What is the “normal” understanding? And who decided that?

80   Chad    http://www.chadholtz.wordpress.com
November 19th, 2008 at 8:47 pm

Sorry, Eugene! They baited me!! :)

81   iggy    http://wordofmouthministries.blogspot.com/
November 20th, 2008 at 12:14 am

Whatever kind of water we drink, our need is forgiveness of sins. Drinking piss water does not bring one into the kingdom of heaven.

Sadly we do not need forgiveness… he received that at the Cross… we need the regeneration unto new life… we need to have the Life of Christ by the power of the resurrection and in that become New Creations…

But if you settle at being a forgiven dead man.. I understand…

Again, I am blowing it on this not responding thing… but man when someone gives half the gospel and struts like they are saving the world… I can only hope the Truth sets them free… for if the Son set you free you are free indeed… for the Life is in the Son.

The trouble with half a gospel is that one leaves the persons half alive… One needs Jesus in his fullness to have Life eternal.

iggy

82   Rick Frueh    http://judahslion.blogspot.com/
November 20th, 2008 at 8:12 am

“What is the “normal” understanding?”

Mine.

“And who decided that?”

Me.

83   Jerry    http://www.dangoldfinch.wordpress.com
November 20th, 2008 at 8:53 am

I’m one of those silly people who has been trying to teach my family that there is a major difference between ‘Christmas’ as a uniquely American hole-day, and the birth of Jesus as a uniquely Christian remembrance.

I couldn’t care less if someone says merry christmas to me at wal-mart or not.

Still, for the life of me, I cannot find anywhere in Scripture where we are specifically told to ‘celebrate the birth of Jesus.’ It might be me, but I’d rather ‘celebrate’ Good Friday and Resurrection Sunday.

Frankly, I wish ‘christmas’ didn’t exist because i hate spending all my money. Seriously, I’d rather have my nephews spend a week at my house and take them swimming or play ball or hiking than to buy them a $25 gift that they won’t give a damn about 1 minute after they have ripped the paper off of it.

i hate ‘christmas.’ it is nothing more than american consumerism and has nothing to do with Jesus Christ of Bethlehem. (not to mention that I have to plan an extra worship service for Christmas eve (one church I served actually insisted on singing ‘happy birthday’ to Jesus every year on Christmas eve; i cringed with each passing note) and spend the season explaining to people the difference between a Greek ‘x’ (chi) and an American ‘x’ and why the Greek chi is not equivalent to the American x and that a similar shape does not give an equivalent meaning.)

Sheesh. Call me Scrooge, but Christmas is too stressful for a preacher.

jerry

84   Pastorboy    http://crninfo.wordpress.com
November 20th, 2008 at 9:08 am

we need to have the Life of Christ by the power of the resurrection and in that become New Creations…

On this we agree. Ye must be born again….

You just do not get this by getting clean water. You get this through the proclamation of the Gospel in conjunction with God drawing you in conjunction with responding in the faith He has given you…By Grace alone, by faith alone in Christ alone…

So while forgiveness was purchased, we must know about the gift and take the gift for it to become ours…how will they hear without a preacher?

Chas Wesley is rolling over in his grave.

85   Chad    http://www.chadholtz.wordpress.com
November 20th, 2008 at 9:19 am

Jerry-

I feel your frustration. Have you watched the Youtube video yet that is on the link I provided? You can find it by searching for Advent Conspiracy. I have decided that I will be showing that video at my church this Sunday.

PB-
How many conjunctions are necessary before one can be saved? :)

86   Pastorboy    http://crninfo.wordpress.com
November 20th, 2008 at 9:22 am

Salvation is initiated and completed by God….

Our part? Pisteuo. Ability to do that from God. However, we cannot even do that without proclamation.

87   Chad    http://www.chadholtz.wordpress.com
November 20th, 2008 at 9:29 am

PB-
The reason you and I will continue to talk past each other and you will continue to misunderstand me is because you make salvation all about a transaction that moves bodies out of hell into heaven.

The truth about you – the truth about everyone - is that they are saved. Our proclamation is about announcing that Good News and is NOT about convincing people to do their “part” so as to make God happy with them.

88   Pastorboy    http://crninfo.wordpress.com
November 20th, 2008 at 9:36 am

Nope…from condemnation to redemption, adoption, and salvation…

Eventually, that does lead to glorification…

89   Chad    http://www.chadholtz.wordpress.com
November 20th, 2008 at 9:38 am

wow, PB, you sound like Dante :)

90   Rick Frueh    http://judahslion.blogspot.com/
November 20th, 2008 at 10:01 am

“wow, PB, you sound like Dante ”

Or Paul.

It cannot be denied that Christianity is undergoing a doctrinal shift. So either Christianity is becoming more well defined in truth, or it is drifting away from truth. It cannot be both.

91   Pastorboy    http://crninfo.wordpress.com
November 20th, 2008 at 10:02 am

I hate to say it Chad, because I hate this word, but what you are saying sounds like Universalism, it sounds like all the world is saved, and they just do not know it. That is what it sounds like. And that is not biblical. Please explain (I know you do not have to) how your view differs from a Universalistic view, and how it jibes with scripture. The whole story of the Bible from start to finish is about salvation; the reconciliation of man with God by God and for His glory. He accomplished this in Christ, but it is for those who will respond, those who will receive the gift. It is not for those who refuse it. God will honor their free choice by sending them to Hell!

92   Chad    http://www.chadholtz.wordpress.com
November 20th, 2008 at 10:27 am

PB-
While I cannot deny the possibility of hell it is my hope, and should be the hope and desire of all those who know Christ Jesus, that hell will either not exist or be virtually empty (or on its way to being emptied).
You are right to say that if any are in hell it will be by their own choosing. It will be because of their refusal to accept the reality that is already theirs to embrace – the fact that they ARE saved. Tragically, there are some who continue to snub this God who loves them even when they do not return that love and in so doing they become less human – they become dehumanized – ceasing to live as they were created to live: In union with God. That dehumanization is the epitomy of lonliness – it is a lonliness intense like the heat of fire – it is a lonliness that is hell.

Our word can never be the last or final word, however. The God revealed to us in Jesus Christ is the God who searches until all are found. It is the God who loves relentlessly and refuses to be alone. It is the God who desires that NONE should perish or suffer this lonliness, the lonlines Jesus suffered on the cross but even THAT God redeemed and restored.

I thank God that God has refused my “no” to Him. He refused it in Jesus Christ. God’s “yes” to me and to you and to the world trumps my feeble refusals.

93   Phil Miller    http://pmwords.blogspot.com
November 20th, 2008 at 10:28 am

I’m not going to try to speak for Chad, as he’s quite able himself, but I don’t believe he’s describing universalism. I think there’s a way to look at salvation in a broader context without being a universalist. The thing is that salvation is universal in its scope in that affects the entire cosmos. Everything has been redeemed and is in the process of being redeemed. There’s the whole now/not yet tension at play, so I think a lot of the confusion comes about from trying to reconcile that somehow.

Now I believe that Christ dealt with the sins of the world at the cross, so in a real sense everyone’s sins are dealt with. The issue is whether a person chooses to walk in this reality by dying to their old life and living in Christ, or they continue living in their old nature. So I believe from God’s perspective, the defining act of salvation is done, although all of it’s effects aren’t consummated. At the final consummation, whether a person is alive in Christ will be matter of them submitting their will to Christ.

94   Chad    http://www.chadholtz.wordpress.com
November 20th, 2008 at 10:40 am

Phil-
I agree with everything you said there.

I would be happy to be called a universalist if we have properly defined our terms. The problem, however, is after commenting here for about a year I know that PB, while a “educated” pastor, obviously doesn’t understand nuance, or at least doesn’t have any. When he throws out the word “universalist” I have no doubt that he means it in a pejorative sense and thinks it means “everyone goes to heaven so live however you please and serve whatever or whomever you please.” It does NOT mean that all paths lead to God. This is why I probably sound “slippery” to some because I refuse to be pegged with their very myopic understanding of things.

95   Phil Miller    http://pmwords.blogspot.com
November 20th, 2008 at 11:35 am

I do have to say that I find it really funny that Chad’s link about providing a way to give access to clean water has led to the charge of him being a universalist. There’s a sort of irony in the fact that the original post was about Christians defending their “right” to shop at stores using the word “Christmas”, and the thing that is causing controversy is a link about someone deciding to give to others. That’s the internet for ya…

96   Rick Frueh    http://judahslion.blogspot.com/
November 20th, 2008 at 12:45 pm

Clean water is the first step toward becoming a universalist.

97   Pastorboy    http://www.thedowngrade2007.blogspot.com
November 20th, 2008 at 1:01 pm

#95
No, Phil, The fact that he said that all people are saved led to charges of him being a universalist.

The greek word for salvation has four tenses, indicating that not all are saved. Really, the price has been paid for all to be saved, but not all are saved.

Salvation begins with justification. This is the act by which Christ’s sacrifice pays the price for our sin. At that point, we are redeemed, bought out of the penalty for my sin. As we continue on, we are sanctified, that is made day by day into the image of Christ as we separate ourselves unto Him by the power of His holy Spirit. That is the life we are living here, we are in the kingdom of God, and, having been made citizens, we live like it…Then when we die, we are glorified. In that sense, we are not all saved.

Universalism is the idea that no matter what you believe, the death of Christ applies to you. It also means that all religions are equally valid as a way to heaven. Chad sounds like he believes the former, not the latter.

Buying wells for poor people is great, but without proclamation of the Gospel, it is a good work anyone can do. I prefer to do both to the glory of God.

98   Phil Miller    http://pmwords.blogspot.com
November 20th, 2008 at 2:28 pm

The greek word for salvation has four tenses, indicating that not all are saved. Really, the price has been paid for all to be saved, but not all are saved.

I think the issue is that the way your using the word “saved” is as an adjective, i.e., a way to describe a person’s state. The way Chad and I are using it is a verb. The are “saved” because the work has already been done. Christ saved them on the Cross.

99   Pastorboy    http://www.thedowngrade2007.blogspot.com
November 20th, 2008 at 2:33 pm

The are “saved” because the work has already been done. Christ saved them those who will look to Him alone for salvation on the cross

There. Fixed.

100   Chad    http://www.chadholtz.wordpress.com
November 20th, 2008 at 2:39 pm

Universalism is the idea that no matter what you believe, the death of Christ applies to you.

Amen. That’s not “universalism” that is the Gospel.

For while we were weak, while we were sinners, while we were enemies of God, Christ died for us, thus proving God’s love for us.

I am amused by something and wonder if anyone else finds the irony in this that I do….

Imagine me saying this to someone:

“You are not doing the right things to be saved.”

All here would rightly accuse me of being Pelagian and relying on works for salvation.

Let’s change the above statment to…

“You are not thinking the right things to be saved.”

Suddenly, my saying that would remove me from the Pelagian heretic category to the American Evangelical Christian category.

Anyone else find that odd?

101   Pastorboy    http://www.thedowngrade2007.blogspot.com
November 20th, 2008 at 2:46 pm

For while we were weak, while we were sinners, while we were enemies of God, Christ died for us, thus proving God’s love for us.

Yes, thats almost a quote of Romans 5, but him dying for us is not saving us. His dying provides salvation for those who would believe (pisteuo):

15that whoever believes in him may have eternal life.

16″For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life. 17For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him. 18 Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only Son of God.

102   Chad    http://www.chadholtz.wordpress.com
November 20th, 2008 at 2:57 pm

but him dying for us is not saving us.

Right, sorta. It is the whole thing – his life, his death and his resurrection that saves us. For just as ALL were dead in Adam ALL have been made alive in Christ, the second Adam.

In this Christ, ALL have been reconciled to God. Therefore, BE reconciled.

IOW, You are saved, therefore, repent.

John 3 and elsewhere is speaking to the outworking of that salvation in the present. Indeed, we can choose to live in the bunker (in darkness) and refuse to come up into the new world that has been rescued (born again) and live in the light. Your refusal to do so or your ignorance of the fact that salvation, or freedom, has been purchased for you does not change the reality that you are saved. My adopted children are my son and daughter regardless of whether or not they ever acknowledge it.

103   Pastorboy    http://www.thedowngrade2007.blogspot.com
November 20th, 2008 at 3:00 pm

#102

Wrong.

104   Phil Miller    http://pmwords.blogspot.com
November 20th, 2008 at 3:10 pm

PB,
Saying that our salvation is based on our repentance breeds what I call “eternal insecurity”. It’s why I had friends who felt it necessary to go up and “get saved” every year at church camp. It’s why televangelists are able to continue bilking people out of money. Repentance is a response to the Holy Spirit, but it’s not what saves us.

105   Pastorboy    http://www.thedowngrade2007.blogspot.com
November 20th, 2008 at 3:21 pm

#104

Please refer back to #101

#102

Wrong. Plain and simple.

106   Chad    http://www.chadholtz.wordpress.com
November 20th, 2008 at 3:32 pm

Wrong. Plain and simple.

Oh. Well, I guess that settles it. PB has spoken, ya’ll.

107   Rick Frueh    http://judahslion.blogspot.com/
November 20th, 2008 at 3:39 pm

How can there be any substantive discussion before we agree on even general issues. I know some wonderful Buddhists, Mormons, Christian Science people, and even atheists, so the life we lead here is residual. The ultimate/eternal issues are these:

1. After death, what are the various destinations?

2. If there is more than one “place” after death, what are the various paths that lead to each “place”?

I do believe the “disembodied” afterlife is important to us all. Tell the parents of the 8 year old girl who dies of cancer that God’s core is THIS life. What do you tell a 6 year old boy where his father went after being killed in an accident? The last enemy to be overcome is death, and the Christian message is primarily one of eternal life after this life. Not at the exclusion of this life, but surely not overshadowed by this life.

108   Pastorboy    http://www.thedowngrade2007.blogspot.com
November 20th, 2008 at 3:43 pm

#106

Refer back to #101.

GOD has spoken, not PB.

109   Chad    http://www.chadholtz.wordpress.com
November 20th, 2008 at 3:53 pm

What do you tell a 6 year old boy where his father went after being killed in an accident?

I tell him the same thing I would tell my adopted children about their parents who died never hearing the name Jesus Christ. I would tell him the same thing I would tell the parents in my church who recently lost a son to alcohol. I would tell him the same thing that I would tell the atheist who just lost a child in a car wreck.

You ask how can there be substantive discussion. I think we need to be asking is, “what have WE made substantive?” I think the place to start is we start talking about the things that matter in scripture and make “substantive” what is emphasized most there. How can we say that discussion about who is spending what time where after death the thing that matters first and most when such little emphasis is given that in scripture?

As I have said: I hope hell will be empty or nonexistent. I can relate to and approach every creature on earth as a beloved child of God and not get hung up on where they might be spending eternity. I can leave that matter ENTIRELY to God. What I CAN do, and what I MUST do, is love them as I have been loved. In that is power….and life.

110   Chad    http://www.chadholtz.wordpress.com
November 20th, 2008 at 3:53 pm

#108

lol

111   Paul C    http://www.themidnightcry.com
November 20th, 2008 at 3:55 pm

1. After death, what are the various destinations?

- there is a single destination for all – good and evil. Death is just that – death. Hence the reference to Stephen falling “asleep” when he was stoned. We all die, and after this the judgment – at the return of Christ.

When Christ returns, he separates sheep and goats if you will. His kingdom is established on this earth for all eternity (paradise restored).

2. If there is more than one “place” after death, what are the various paths that lead to each “place”?

see above. One place for all… UNTIL Christ returns.

What do you tell someone who’s family has died BEFORE hearing the gospel? We must allow the Lord – who will judge all men equitably – to draw final judgment.

112   Chad    http://www.chadholtz.wordpress.com
November 20th, 2008 at 4:03 pm

What do you tell someone who’s family has died BEFORE hearing the gospel? We must allow the Lord – who will judge all men equitably – to draw final judgment.

Yes, because their eternal destiny is completely and irrevocably dependent upon their ability (or luck) to be in such a place where they hear and be so conditioned as to mentally assent to the hearing of my message.

Their salvation is dependent not upon Jesus Christ and the finished work on Calvary 2000 years ago but upon my missionary zeal and their reception of me.

113   Paul C    http://www.themidnightcry.com
November 20th, 2008 at 4:19 pm

Their salvation is dependent not upon Jesus Christ and the finished work on Calvary 2000 years ago but upon my missionary zeal and their reception of me.

Curious, Chad. How would reconcile this thinking with what Jesus said?

“Whoever receives you receives me, and whoever receives me receives him who sent me.”

If someone rejects the gospel or does not embrace it when they are presented with it, are they still a-OK?

In other words, have they benefitted (ie: saved, eternal life) from the promise of Christ?

114   Jerry    http://www.dangoldfinch.wordpress.com
November 20th, 2008 at 4:22 pm

I’m gonna split hairs on the use of the word ‘equitably’ when used with reference to God’s judgment. I think his judgment will be just, but not equitable. It’s a small thing, but I think words matter. Surely there are many who will not find his judgment equitable.

Chad, permit me to play the advocate here for a moment as I try to sort through your definitions, but is there, in any sense of the traditional understanding of lost and found, anyone who will be lost? Missionary zeal is not based upon the acceptance of a missionary, but upon the acceptance of the message. (Acts 8:14)

Nevertheless, I agree that Jesus said ‘it is finished.’ But there’s still that, I suppose rather shallow biblical idea, that not all accept the message and in fact some who go out of their way in opposition. Be patient with me, as I try to understand what appears to be a rather strange use of terminology and nomenclature. If there is no separation of who is and who is not saved (and I am no Reformed theologian), then in all honesty what is the point of my existence, let alone the point of my preaching the Gospel; what is there to look forward to? (Rev 6:1011)

Do you mean there are saved people who never make any mental assent to the Gospel? You mean there are saved people who have never heard of Jesus let alone acknowledged the gift of grace? How can this be? Surely this is not what you are saying because it in no way squares with the NT where the apostle says that all people are without excuse regardless of whether they heard of Christ or not and where we are told that sheep and goats will certainly not inhabit the same pen.

Again, be patient. I’m just a humble preacher trying hard to sort through this terminology. I’m not disagreeing yet, but I do hope to better understand your position.

Thanks,
jerry

115   Chad    http://www.chadholtz.wordpress.com
November 20th, 2008 at 4:30 pm

Paul -

Define what it means to be “a-OK.”

If someone rejects the gospel or does not embrace it I would say they are rejecting the opportunity to become fully human. They are rejecting a life lived in the Image of God where Jesus Christ is the mediator of all relationship. They are rejecting “eternal life” (which literally means, “life of the ages” or, you might say, the fullness of life).

So in this sense, no, they are not “benefiting” from the salvation already bought for them.

Paul, if my adopted son doesn’t recognize me as his “Father” is he still my son? In his rejection of my love what is he missing out on? What “benefits” are lost if he were to reject me as his daddy? For how long and to what lengths might I go, even as imperfect as I am and as imperfectly as I love, to prove to my son that he doesn’t have to live this way – that in fact, he could be part of this family and experience love even as he himself is loved? If I had eternity I would use every bit of it….or hope to.

116   Paul C    http://www.themidnightcry.com
November 20th, 2008 at 4:40 pm

I think his judgment will be just, but not equitable.

You are right. Just is a better word than equitable.

If someone rejects the gospel or does not embrace it I would say they are rejecting the opportunity to become fully human.

Chad, this is the kind of gobbledegoop that is so ridiculous… this is philosophy, plain and simple, but not biblical.

Paul, if my adopted son doesn’t recognize me as his “Father” is he still my son?

And this is where I think your theology might be wrong. John says that “as many as received Him, to them He gives the power to become to sons of God.”

When we embrace Christ, we are adopted (as your son was in the physical sense) into the family of God.

As Paul confirmed in Romans 8:

For all who are led by the Spirit of God are sons of God. 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!” The Spirit himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God…

It is when we receive Christ that our adoption happens. We receive Him through faith and repentance. All the while it was God working to lead us to Him, that no man can boast and say he accomplished anything but receiving what the Gifting Giver has offered.

117   Rick Frueh    http://judahslion.blogspot.com/
November 20th, 2008 at 4:42 pm

My understanding of the gospel is not to inform sinners they are already saved, it is to encourage them to repent and be saved. The outline that Chad has laid out is not congruant with my understanding of Biblical Christianity.

All sinners are lost until recieving the new birth in Christ, which can only come through personal faith in Jesus Christ.

118   Pastorboy    http://www.thedowngrade2007.blogspot.com
November 20th, 2008 at 4:47 pm

Chad,
“You are spending 100,000 on an education that I got for $1.50 buss pass and a library card”

119   Rick Frueh    http://judahslion.blogspot.com/
November 20th, 2008 at 4:50 pm

“Paul, if my adopted son doesn’t recognize me as his “Father” is he still my son?”

That analogy is earthly and cannot apply to men Biblically. Jesus said some were “of their father the devil”. Paul said if sinners are not saved they are “illegitimate”. To discount for all practicle purposes “eternity” is to disembowel the gospel.

The “fire insurance” straw man does not obliterate the volumes of New Testament teachings on the importance of entering eternity in faith. Minimizing the dualistic nature of eternity is to invent a gentler, kinder, and more humanistic version of Christianity, which in effect, is not Christianity at all.

120   Chad    http://www.chadholtz.wordpress.com
November 20th, 2008 at 4:52 pm

Jerry, please ask away. I appreciate your approach. I am supposed to be reading Ezekiel right now but your questions were too enticing to put aside for now. I also ask you be patient as I am only just awakening to all of this in the past year (and especially the last few months) and have much to learn. Your questions help me work through this. (by the way, you realllllyyyyy need to read Who Will Be Saved? by Willimon. He can articulate this far better than I ever will).

Chad, permit me to play the advocate here for a moment as I try to sort through your definitions, but is there, in any sense of the traditional understanding of lost and found, anyone who will be lost?

Perhaps. And by that I do not intend to be “slippery” as Rick or Paul C would call me. It’s not a matter of equivocating but a matter of humility mixed with a great deal of hope that we have a God who desires NONE to be lost (funny how Ezekiel 34 is the lection for this Sunday that I am preaching from – great text that talks of the Shepherd gathering ALL the lost).
We are all lost. But we have a shepherd. Some of us are more lost than others and some of us are more found than others. But one’s position on some “lost to found” trajectory does not, or should not, influence the Shepherd who goes to any length to find his sheep.

If there is no separation of who is and who is not saved (and I am no Reformed theologian), then in all honesty what is the point of my existence, let alone the point of my preaching the Gospel; what is there to look forward to?

Wonderful question. I would first want to drill deeper into the motivation behind this question, though. Could it be (and I am not saying it IS, but asking) that it is essentially out of our falleness that we would assume that there can not be something worth looking forward to or winning if there are no losers? If there is no one that gets discarded than why should I be happy about the future that lies in wait for me? There is perhaps this vestige within us that still wants to ask with the apostle John, “but Lord, what about him?” We exist because God wished to have company. We have a God who, whatever else we want to stutter about him, IS Love. What we have to look forward to is an eternity with this God who has loved us so scandalously, so insanely, where we will get to see come to fruition the work of the Kingdom we have been praying for and striving for during our lives prior to Christ’s return (I know you read N.T. Wright’s Surprised By Hope - that is what I am drawing from). Our work here in the present is to be ambassadors for this Christ, this One who IS Lord of Heaven and Earth, and recruit as many as we can to engage in this kingdom work in the present. That is what we do as Christians – proclaiming the promises of God and the hope that this (insert whatever fallen structure or power you can imagine) does not get the last word.

let me pause here before moving on…

121   Phil Miller    http://pmwords.blogspot.com
November 20th, 2008 at 5:01 pm

I think the whole discussion about when the act of salvation takes place is sort of a sidetrack. To me the issue is one of how we approach people in an evangelistic sense. On one side, you have people saying that we need tell people that they are sinners, and because of that God wants to kill them.

Right now, I see it more Biblical to approach it in a way of explaining that God isn’t angry at sinners. In fact He loves them, and He rescued and is rescuing them. So I don’t believe a message based around the judgment of God is the most Biblical one. Mainly because the judgment for sin has already been paid.

It really gets down to how we view the Atonement.

122   Chad    http://www.chadholtz.wordpress.com
November 20th, 2008 at 5:08 pm

Do you mean there are saved people who never make any mental assent to the Gospel? You mean there are saved people who have never heard of Jesus let alone acknowledged the gift of grace? How can this be? Surely this is not what you are saying because it in no way squares with the NT where the apostle says that all people are without excuse regardless of whether they heard of Christ or not and where we are told that sheep and goats will certainly not inhabit the same pen.

If you mean by “saved” that there could be those populating heaven that have never heard the name Jesus Christ before they died, then yes, that is what I mean.
I think a better question to ask is this: Why should I, who have heard the Good News and accepted it yet fail to live faithfully to the one I call Lord and, in fact, fail miserably at it more times than not, get to be “saved” and go to heaven?

Now, if you mean “saved” in the sense where they can have, despite their present conditions, a life that is filled with love, hope, joy and faith – where they can know that “Rome” is not going to win with its tools of economy and politics and death than no, they are not saved without having heard the Good News and having faith (trusting) in the God-Man who is making all things new and will one day unite heaven and earth in a beautiful kiss.

The interesting thing about the sheep and the goats is that both classes were ignorant of who Jesus was.

peace.

123   Chad    http://www.chadholtz.wordpress.com
November 20th, 2008 at 5:21 pm

So I don’t believe a message based around the judgment of God is the most Biblical one.

Phil, at the risk of shocking everyone, I will disagree to a point with this. I realize you say “based around” judgment, and that is true, but I do think we need to emphasize judgment more, perhaps in a different way though.

Without judgment there is no grace. I think they go hand in hand. Evil will be addressed. Evil will be judged. The problem with this in the past, I think, has been that we have made judgment all about damning people who don’t believe in Jesus the way we do. We have failed to think of judgment as something that is going to be aimed at the institutions that have long exploited people, our politics, our economies, etc.

Now, does that mean that judgment requires an eternity in a fiery hell? Not necessarily. Is it possible that in the crucible of that moment, in that moment where we stand before the judgment throne of the Lord of the Universe, that we feel the intensity of God’s fury towards sin and that intensity is like the “fires of hell?” Could it be that such a judgment would render us as a people on our knees, confessing that indeed, Jesus Is Lord?

Just thinking…

124   Chad    http://www.chadholtz.wordpress.com
November 20th, 2008 at 5:29 pm

I also realize, as I look back on my own faith progression, why this would tick people like PB off – people whose entire ministry revolves around evangelizing to people in such a way that emphasizes they are going to hell unless they accept the message he shouts on a street corner. It sorta sucks (or better yet, is intensely humbling) to realize that the eternal destiny of the people passing me on the street is not something I can manipulate but has already been decided.
I must admit, part of me still wants to hold on to the idea that my works can save myself or others. Either Jesus died for the whole world or he didn’t.

125   Pastorboy    http://thedowngrade2007.blogspot.com
November 20th, 2008 at 5:30 pm

Right now, I see it more Biblical to approach it in a way of explaining that God isn’t angry at sinners.

Then your view does not square with scripture, though it does square with Rob Bell and Brian McClaren

Romans 2:5 But because of your hard and impenitent heart you are storing up ?wrath for yourself on the day of wrath when God’s righteous judgment will be revealed.

And, of Course, Romans 1:18-

18 For the wrath of God l?is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who by their unrighteousness suppress the truth

Then, the fact that God says all men are condemned already

John 3:17 For God did not send his Son into the world m?to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him. 18 n?Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe is condemned already, because he has not o?believed in the name of the only Son of God

And, of course the destiny of all who do not believe:

36 Whoever believes in the Son has eternal life; whoever does not obey the Son shall not a?see life, but the wrath of God remains on him.

I prefer the clear reading of scripture to NT Wright and McLaren and Bell any day of the week, Phil. We are condemned now. We must believe-pisteuo-place our entire trust, faith, and commit ourselves to Jesus with the faith that is give us by God.

126   Chad    http://www.chadholtz.wordpress.com
November 20th, 2008 at 5:37 pm

PB, “wrath” is the consuming fire of God’s holiness. You have to learn how to hold in tension various parts of scripture. You cannot say out of one side of your mouth that ALL are reconciled to God and yet God still hates some.

You might want to study up on what God’s wrath really means and why it must hold hands with God’s mercy, grace and finished work of Christ.

127   Paul C    http://www.themidnightcry.com
November 20th, 2008 at 5:46 pm

I am not against the reading of books, BUT…

Guys, I would have to say that a lot of confusion here comes from reading from authors (some not inspired by God, and others whose message we thwart), though perhaps well-meaning, that are somehow equated to the level of scripture. Very dangerous.

We are built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets – Jesus Christ being the chief cornerstone. Notice the consistency in ALL of their messages, and then line up all the confusion with all the “reconstruction” of salvation. It’s baffling.

I thank God that I haven’t been and will never go to seminary – it seems to fill your head with such trash and further confuse a doctor with a message that could previously be understood by a fisherman, widow or farmer.

It seems that somehow human philosophy is trumping biblical truth with many of the comments – or is at least trying to.

128   Phil Miller    http://pmwords.blogspot.com
November 20th, 2008 at 5:50 pm

I don’t look at the wrath of God as some sort of active anger on God’s part. I believe that the full penalty of sin was paid on the cross. Now I would say the love of God is like a fire, in that it can be warming and give light, but it can also be seen as terrifying. So in some sense, wrath is the same thing as the love of God.

The wrath that is described in Romans is simply God giving people over to the full consequences of their sin. It’s actually out of love that God does that, because once people come to the end of themselves in sin, they will turn to God out of desperation.

129   Paul C    http://www.themidnightcry.com
November 20th, 2008 at 5:55 pm

So in some sense, wrath is the same thing as the love of God.

case in point… what’s happening here?!? My goodness.

130   amy    
November 20th, 2008 at 5:57 pm

If you mean by “saved” that there could be those populating heaven that have never heard the name Jesus Christ before they died, then yes, that is what I mean.
I think a better question to ask is this: Why should I, who have heard the Good News and accepted it yet fail to live faithfully to the one I call Lord and, in fact, fail miserably at it more times than not, get to be “saved” and go to heaven?

Now, if you mean “saved” in the sense where they can have, despite their present conditions, a life that is filled with love, hope, joy and faith – where they can know that “Rome” is not going to win with its tools of economy and politics and death than no, they are not saved without having heard the Good News and having faith (trusting) in the God-Man who is making all things new and will one day unite heaven and earth in a beautiful kiss.

Could this, along with the other things you’ve been saying, be summarized as:

“Some are not presently saved – living in God’s kingdom – because they don’t yet realize that they are a child of God. But all will eventually live in God’s kingdom (heaven) because Christ saved all.”

Or, at the very least: “Some are not presently saved – living in God’s kingdom – because they don’t yet realize that they are a child of God. But who am I to say that all will not eventually live in God’s kingdom, even if it takes Him an eternity to reconcile some to Himself?”

131   Paul C    http://www.themidnightcry.com
November 20th, 2008 at 5:58 pm

Let’s see who can warp, twist and wrest this first!

Isaiah 63: outlining the Lord’s coming

1Who is this who comes from Edom,
in crimsoned garments from Bozrah,
he who is splendid in his apparel,
marching in the greatness of his strength?
“It is I, speaking in righteousness,
mighty to save.”
2Why is your apparel red,
and your garments like his who treads in the winepress?

3″I have trodden the winepress alone, and from the peoples no one was with me;
I trod them in my anger
and trampled them in my wrath;

their lifeblood spattered on my garments,
and stained all my apparel.
4 For the day of vengeance was in my heart,
and my year of redemption had come.

132   Phil Miller    http://pmwords.blogspot.com
November 20th, 2008 at 6:01 pm

I thank God that I haven’t been and will never go to seminary – it seems to fill your head with such trash and further confuse a doctor with a message that could previously be understood by a fisherman, widow or farmer.

Lol, I’ve never been to seminary, either.

I’m not trying to make anything confusing. I’m trying to make sense of things as I see it. I’ve wrestled with many of these things personally, and I feel that it’s just been a necessary part of my growth as a Christian.

Just because the core of the message is simple doesn’t mean that there deeper issue that aren’t worth studying.

The ironic thing is that I believe that the way I see it is that the theologians who have most influenced me are ones who have done a good job of explaining the texts in their original context, peeling away the layers of systematic theology that have been piled on through the years.

133   Paul C    http://www.themidnightcry.com
November 20th, 2008 at 6:03 pm

Just because the core of the message is simple doesn’t mean that there deeper issue that aren’t worth studying.

I agree – but oftentimes, this is where the departure from the truth comes. Think about the early church – it was not destroyed by persecution but undermined by philosophy (Catholic church, for example).

I have to say: this is what I am seeing here as well.

134   Phil Miller    http://pmwords.blogspot.com
November 20th, 2008 at 6:07 pm

case in point… what’s happening here?!? My goodness.

Well, in 1 John 4:8 we’re told that “God is love”. This is one of the few statements that actually says something about God’s very nature. So if God is love, everything He does comes from His heart of love. So it’s not like God is 80% love and 20% wrath. To us, wrath and love seem like conflicting attributes, but in reality they aren’t.

I believe they are both out if the same heart, but we might not understand it all the time. It’s like a child being punished. While being punished, he is one sense receiving the wrath of the parent. But this is actually an act of love of the parent.

135   amy    
November 20th, 2008 at 6:11 pm

To go along with Isaiah 63:

Rev 21:6-8.

He said to me: “It is done. I am the Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and the End. To him who is thirsty I will give to drink without cost from the spring of the water of life. He who overcomes will inherit all this, and I will be his God and he will be my son. But the cowardly, the unbelieving, the vile, the murderers, the sexually immoral, those who practice magic arts, the idolaters and all liars — their place will be in the fiery lake of burning sulfur. This is the second death.”(NIV)

136   Paul C    http://www.themidnightcry.com
November 20th, 2008 at 6:16 pm

Phil, you are confusing wrath with chastening. A parent chastises his child, as our Father chastises us as well (heb 12).

Wrath is unleashed against ungodliness, evil and hard-heartedness.

God is love and showed this by sparing nothing when He sent Christ. He is also just and will execute wrath on the Earth before Jesus returns.

137   Chad    http://www.chadholtz.wordpress.com
November 20th, 2008 at 6:43 pm

I was wondering when Paul C would finally bash the Catholics :)

Hey Paul, to ease your worry – I didnt learn this in seminary.

Phil – I agree – God’s wrath is an outworking of his love.
Also, we haven’t hit on this, but scripture suggests judgment and wrath are things that are worked into the created order by God.

138   Jerry    http://www.dangoldfinch.wordpress.com
November 20th, 2008 at 6:47 pm

Phil,

You wrote: “Right now, I see it more Biblical to approach it in a way of explaining that God isn’t angry at sinners.”

So, what you are saying is that St Edwards was quite wrong? :)

Interesting, that point about being to Seminary and getting learned up and all…I just got my newest issue of Modern Reformation…in it I found this essay: “Setting up the Sheep for Heresy: How the Sufficiency of Scripture is Undermined by Learned Preaching.”

Chad,

I’m gonna read your answers slowly before I respond and I might just respond to you at FB in an email so that I don’t clutter up the thread with my queries. Although:

Our work here in the present is to be ambassadors for this Christ, this One who IS Lord of Heaven and Earth, and recruit as many as we can to engage in this kingdom work in the present. That is what we do as Christians – proclaiming the promises of God and the hope that this (insert whatever fallen structure or power you can imagine) does not get the last word.

strikes me as Scriptural to a point. I don’t think I like the word ‘recruit’, but I see your point in using it. I have been having this battle, inside, in prayer, and in preaching, over this issue of salvation. We in American Evangelicalism tend to make ’salvation’ a very private, me-centered thing. And yet, when I read passages like 1 Peter 2:910, I am led to believe that the emphasis in Scripture is not so much individual, although that certainly cannot be excluded, but rather peoplish. IOW, God is creating a people (much like Israel) to be His light, his salt, that people may see our good deeds and praise the Father in heaven.

It’s an intriguing proposition, but, when one thinks about it, it does put the emphasis back where the good Reformed theologian would like it: On God who saves; and takes it off the individual who in no way can come to God on his own. (That makes sense in my head, and may not be coming across clearly.) What if God is creating a people and this is the reason why the American idea of individualistic salvation is so foreign to Scripture? We call one at a time; God calls a people. Nevertheless, it is individuals who are called to make up a people, no?

I’m working this out, to be sure, but this conversation (even though I should be reading right now) is helping. I just don’t know yet if I am willing to jettison the face-value meaning of lost and found yet. Your point about the sheep and goats is dead on; still, there was a separation and I don’t think we are entirely in the dark about who we are in Christ even if Christ remains a wee bit fuzzy. (Please, don’t take that too far though.)

jerry

139   Paul C    http://www.themidnightcry.com
November 20th, 2008 at 7:40 pm

I was wondering when Paul C would finally bash the Catholics

Still, I think my point is a fair one – the church was undermined from within by doctrines of devils, as Paul put it. Even in Matthew 24, Jesus gives 3 full warnings about false teachers who would preach in His name, yet lead people astray.

Peter talks about this, and Jude’s little epistle is all about this as well.

Today attempts to undermine the truth are in full swing, especially with access to information like never before.

I think this thread proves out the danger of what can happen when we leave off the foundation in the pursuit of ‘enlightenment’ and a ‘quest’ for deeper understanding.

God should be pursued deeply (intimacy), as opposed to broadly (more and more fluff information).

140   amy    
November 20th, 2008 at 8:36 pm

Chad,

If you ARE saying either of the things I summarized earlier (#133) , then you are simply turning your back on Scripture, because Scripture supports neither of these ideas:

“Some are not presently saved – living in God’s kingdom – because they don’t yet realize that they are a child of God. But all will eventually live in God’s kingdom (heaven) because Christ saved all.”

“Some are not presently saved – living in God’s kingdom – because they don’t yet realize that they are a child of God. But who am I to say that all will not eventually live in God’s kingdom, even if it takes Him an eternity to reconcile some to Himself?”

God never asked us to rewrite His story as we would like it to be played out.

141   Pastorboy    http://crninfo.wordpress.com
November 20th, 2008 at 8:38 pm

“Some are not presently saved – living in God’s kingdom – because they don’t yet realize that they are a child of God. But who am I to say that all will not eventually live in God’s kingdom, even if it takes Him an eternity to reconcile some to Himself?

A JW actually sat in my living room last friday and said almost the exact same thing.

142   nc    
November 20th, 2008 at 8:41 pm

Yeah, the nuanced theology of the early church that all of us our owe our christology to…

that awful “thinking” and wrestling…

yikes…

the inherent anti-intellectualism of certain kinds of discourse sadly reduces the depth of the wonder of God revealed in Christ that is celebrated by the doctrinal work of our forefathers and mothers.

AND…

sadly reduces the depth of the experience of the apostles…

the text in scripture that speaks of Peter, etc. being “unlearned” is NOT a reference to education.

It’s the term used across the empire to refer to people who were illiterate…i.e. unable to read.

Even rich people of the day were illiterate at times…all you had to do was hire a slave who could read.

We connect literacy to education in a way foreign to the cultural milieu of the Scriptures.

But then again, that insight rises out of that pesky historical-critical work that is so inherently “bad” and “liberal”…

ick.

May all false antitheses burn in hell–the place from which they rise–even if those who use them will be with us in heaven.

;)

143   nc    
November 20th, 2008 at 8:45 pm

Actually, there’s a strong argument that “wrath” is the providential release of the natural consequences for sin withheld by God in his day to day mercy.

It’s not a proactive out pouring of punishment ad extra…it’s the full weight of sin and it’s effects itself.

Jeremiah said that sin is its own punishment.

144   Jerry    http://www.dangoldfinch.wordpress.com
November 20th, 2008 at 9:10 pm

“Jeremiah said that sin is its own punishment.”

I’m fairly certain Paul did too.

145   amy    
November 20th, 2008 at 9:12 pm

Doesn’t “providential release of the natural consequences for sin” imply that there is a Providence meting out punishment? How is that not proactive?

Jeremiah shares the words of a God who is not hesitant to participate in pouring out wrath on His own people. He wasn’t just sitting around waiting for the effect of sin to run its course.

146   nc    
November 20th, 2008 at 10:30 pm

sin’s effects just running its course is not what I said.

What I’m saying is that, even as Jerry rightly pointed out with Paul too, that in the cosmology of sin, God’s withdrawal of Providence (i.e. wrath) demonstrates the deep and wide effects of sin that permeate the universe.

Sin is a reality that goes far beyond some moralist obsession with naughty behaviors…we see this language in Romans…sin is not just a judicial reality but a “participationist” reality.

When Providence is withdrawn, sin runs wild to its widest cosmological effect…

thus “destroying”, in some sense, those responsible.

It’s the release of God’s hand on the door, holding back the full weight and force of sin and its effects.

That’s different than God opening the door and then additionally kicking you while you’re down and God taking “credit” for it all. OR worse yet, saying that the full effect of what is experienced has nothing to do with the depth of sin and it’s effects, but is all about God as some deity with an anger problem. (and NO, i’m not saying that God never gets angry at things…so don’t go there. if any of you do, the conversation is over. seriously.)

This articulation is part of a robust hamartiology (theology of sin) that clearly articulates the permeating tragic reality of sin as a feature of the whole created order (and, yes, that includes us and our behavior.)

This articulation preserves God’s justice and love…it makes God’s justice an expression of love–since God IS love. It also ensures that we can in no way ever say that God is the originator of evil.

Without this understanding and an insistence by human on a God who needs to always and everywhere–even after the work of Christ–to be quick on the trigger to anger says more about the vengeful spirit of humans that would use that conception of the justice of God to justify to themselves their own tendency to get some smug satisfaction out of the punishment of those who go astray.

Not accusing anyone here of that attitude…just saying it’s something to think about…

147   nc    
November 20th, 2008 at 10:32 pm

Amy,

just so you know…I’m not trying to be argumentative here. This actually could be a fruitful discussion.

besides…I’m sure if I go too far astray, the lurking Chris P will probably show up to inform everyone that I’m an idiot in that oh-so-Christ-like way that he has about him.

;)

then again…I don’t think he’d actually waste his time here on this horribly pointless website.

148   Eugene Roberts    http://eugeneroberts.wordpress.com
November 21st, 2008 at 8:34 am

Seeing that this horse has some kick left I’ll add my 2 cents…

I think we need to admit that from our current perspective there is scripture foundation for both views:
– All will be saved/reconciled
– Some will be condemned i.e. never be saved/reconciled
With this tension between these views we have a few options:
1. Come to the conclusion that God is talking from both sides of his mouth and therefore can’t be trusted…
2. Ignore one view and scriptures that point to that completely and stubbornly cling to one of the two.
3. Wrestle with scripture, humbly conversing about it and by the help of the Holy Spirit and in community with other believers get closer to the truth presented by Scripture.

For me the first one is not an option, the second steeped in selfrighteousness and pride and the third the only way forward but it must be done in humility and willingness to listen without condemning each other as heretics.

149   Chad    http://www.chadholtz.wordpress.com
November 21st, 2008 at 9:14 am

Still one question lingers for me:

Is anyone here going to do something to help the 1 in 6 people in our world who have no access to clean water?

Go to this website and watch this short, very well made video:

http://www.adventconspiracy.org/

You can download it on itunes. I will be showing this vid at my church this Sunday morning.
Join me and my friends as we be intentional this Advent to subvert Christmas.
If you are a pastor, would you dare show this at your church? If your a lay member, would you dare take this to your pastor and ask him or her to show this during Advent?

How many churches might be united in a common cause this Christmas that is a proclamation of the Gospel?

grace and peace.

150   Pastorboy    http://thedowngrade2007.blogspot.com
November 21st, 2008 at 9:20 am

I think we need to admit that from our current perspective there is is not scripture foundation for both views:
- All will be saved/reconciled
- Some will be condemned i.e. never be saved/reconciled

There. Fixed it.

This is the view of the scripture, and for all you ‘red letter christians’ out there, these are the words of Jesus:

18 Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe is condemned already, because he has not ?believed in the name of the only Son of God.

These words are very clear, Eugene and others! We don’t need any theology or books by emergent authors to clarify- we are already in a state of condemnation unless we place our faith in Christ.

And, John the Baptist adds:

36 ?Whoever believes in the Son has eternal life; ?whoever does not obey the Son shall not see life, but the wrath of God remains on him.

We are not all saved; salvation requires saving faith which is described by the Greek word pisteuo, which means committing to and placing full belief and trust in. This ability to believe is also given us by God!

151   Pastorboy    http://thedowngrade2007.blogspot.com
November 21st, 2008 at 9:25 am

How many churches might be united in a common cause this Christmas that is a proclamation of the Gospel?

I will be, but giving water is not a proclamation of the Gospel. Oprah, Bill Gates, and Louis Farakahn can give clean water. I can do so in the name of Jesus by proclaiming his Gospel as I give water. Proclaiming the Gospel is opening the mouth. We can say doing good works to glorify God is an evidence of being born again, and an outworking of obedience to the Gospel, but it is not proclaiming the Gospel.

152   Chad    http://www.chadholtz.wordpress.com
November 21st, 2008 at 9:32 am

So, no surprise – PB is not on board.

Anyone else?

“And if you so much as give a cup of water to the least of these, you have done it unto me.” – Jesus.

Go read the sheep and the goats story again, PB.

153   Chad    http://www.chadholtz.wordpress.com
November 21st, 2008 at 9:32 am

NC-
Your posts above about sin and wrath are spot on.

154   Phil Miller    http://pmwords.blogspot.com
November 21st, 2008 at 9:39 am

I will be, but giving water is not a proclamation of the Gospel. Oprah, Bill Gates, and Louis Farakahn can give clean water. I can do so in the name of Jesus by proclaiming his Gospel as I give water. Proclaiming the Gospel is opening the mouth. We can say doing good works to glorify God is an evidence of being born again, and an outworking of obedience to the Gospel, but it is not proclaiming the Gospel.

Sigh…

The Gospel is the proclamation and demonstration that Jesus is Lord, and that all earthly or spiritual powers that set themselves up against this fact are not.

So if a thirsty child is given water to drink, whom does it glorify? Does it glorify satan? I don’t think so. Satan would prefer the child die.

There is a chance that a human may receive some glory from a charitable act, I suppose, but it will be fleeting glory. How do we know that Oprah giving a child food and water wasn’t an answer to that child’s prayers? Who are we to question who God will work through? If God could use the hard-hearted Egyptians to bless the Israelites, I don’t see why He couldn’t continue to work through people who don’t even know it today.

I think our expectations of what God can do are way too small.

155   Chris L    http://www.fishingtheabyss.com/
November 21st, 2008 at 9:44 am

Chad – To PB’s point, though, “the gospel” is not “the gospel” if it works alone… At the same time, it’s not really the gospel if it is just belief without action, either. (i.e. “Peace, be warm and fed…”)

They go hand-in-hand. Doing good works w/o giving credit to whom they glorify is simply just doing good works – it is a reward unto itself. It’s not any more edifying to the body than standing on a corner shouting “turn or burn…”

Rick and I disagree on a number of things on this particular topic. I do not think that one must be part of a “Christian” organization doing relief work, or that the thrust of the mission must be evangelism. However, I do believe that God must be given the credit for the work, in some way seen to the recipient…

156   Chad    http://www.chadholtz.wordpress.com
November 21st, 2008 at 9:45 am

I think our expectations of what God can do are way too small.

Bingo.

157   Chris L    http://www.fishingtheabyss.com/
November 21st, 2008 at 9:48 am

And to underscore Phil’s point – I think we should encourage non-Christians to do good, and that we should not disparage care for the poor when it does not come from Christian hands.

If anything, we should be shamed that it wasn’t already done – not to begrudge someone else doing it at all. That’s like saying “if a Christian doesn’t feed you today, you’d be better off starving…”

158   Pastorboy    http://www.thedowngrade2007.blogspot.com
November 21st, 2008 at 9:55 am

#157

Amen, Chris L

We ought to be ashamed as Christians that Oprah, Bill Gates and others are at the forefront of giving to the poor this Christmas. Christians should be, at all times, at the forefront in this area.

Giving still does not save, and it is still not a proclamation of the Gospel, but we should be doing both hand in hand because it glorifies God when we do.

159   Chad    http://www.chadholtz.wordpress.com
November 21st, 2008 at 10:02 am

Chris L-

I hear that.
But I think Phil puts the finer point on it.
In truth, God IS glorified in our acts of hospitality to our neighbor (who is everyone). There is a danger, I think, of taking your point to an extreme. That is, we become paralyzed and do nothing for our neighbor because we cannot (for various reasons- lack of opportunity, ignorance, fear, whatever) articulate in words the reason we do what we do. And so, nothing happens. And in the end, we are told by our Judge: get away from me, I never knew you. Why? Because you didn’t give me a cup of water. Notice, Jesus did not say: You did not give me a cup of cold water and lead me in the sinner’s prayer.

The sharing of our theology comes out of the context of relationship. Naturally, I will share that the reason I do this or that is because I believe Jesus is Lord of the world. But that pronouncement falls flat if I am only announcing (i.e. yelling on street corners).

Also, I think this discussion disturbs some of our assumptions about what we have the power to do and not do. It illuminates how we have fallen prey to the trap of loving others but with an agenda. It is to say: I will be your neighbor but only insofar as I can try to convert you. I am trying to unlearn that way of living the Christian life. Frankly, I think it is actually counter productive to what the Gospel truly is and how it is to be proclaimed.

I am trying to learn how to give a cup of cold water to someone not because I see them as heading to hell and needing my message to fix that, but rather, I want to give them a cup of water because they are a child of the living God and loved by God – period. My hunch is that they have never thought that or been treated as a human being made in God’s image rather than a potential convert and in that gesture alone, space is opened for the Holy Spirit to do what only the Holy Spirit can do.

peace.

160   Paul C    http://www.themidnightcry.com
November 21st, 2008 at 10:12 am

Is anyone arguing that good works and the proclaiming of the gospel cannot go hand-in-hand? I don’t think so.

The two are equally important, ESPECIALLY in a day where moralism (everyone doing good works, albeit for different motives). It is important that the motivation for our good works becomes clear and that love propels us to share the ‘cure for cancer’ (Jesus, if you will), rather than just the band-aid (cold water).

I do agree with Chad’s statement here:

The sharing of our theology comes out of the context of relationship.

Where I think there is a BIG difference is Chad’s theology of all already saved and not knowing it yet… This is a seismic shift in understanding that will impact how we approach sharing the gospel.

161   Chad    http://www.chadholtz.wordpress.com
November 21st, 2008 at 10:14 am

Where I think there is a BIG difference is Chad’s theology of all already saved and not knowing it yet… This is a seismic shift in understanding that will impact how we approach sharing the gospel.

We can hope.

162   Eugene Roberts    http://eugeneroberts.wordpress.com
November 21st, 2008 at 10:46 am

Regarding commnt #150

Pastorboy, I don’t want to get pulled into this argument because I think Chad has presented us with a chalenge here to do more good this Christmas to the glory of God. I just want you to consider scriptures like the following that stand in tension with those you quoted:

Romans 11:32 For God has bound all men over to disobedience so that he may have mercy on them all.

1 Cor 15:20But Christ has indeed been raised from the dead, the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep. 21For since death came through a man, the resurrection of the dead comes also through a man. 22For as in Adam all die, so in Christ all will be made alive.

Col 1:19For God was pleased to have all his fullness dwell in him, 20and through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether things on earth or things in heaven, by making peace through his blood, shed on the cross.

Romans 5:18Consequently, just as the result of one trespass was condemnation for all men, so also the result of one act of righteousness was justification that brings life for all men. 19For just as through the disobedience of the one man the many were made sinners, so also through the obedience of the one man the many will be made righteous.

Surely “all” in these scriptures means ALL? Is this not also the Word of God? Do you see the tension?

163   Eric Van Dyken    
November 21st, 2008 at 11:03 am

PB –

You wrote: “We ought to be ashamed as Christians that Oprah, Bill Gates and others are at the forefront of giving to the poor this Christmas. Christians should be, at all times, at the forefront in this area. ”

You can’t really be serious. What makes you think that Oprah and Bill Gates are at the forefront of giving to the poor? Is it because of their celebrity and the fact that they call a press conference every time they drop a dime into the hat of a panhandler? Have you ever heard of the widow’s mite? (hint: it’s in the Bible)

You can’t seriously fall for the old canard that Christians aren ‘t doing anything while pagans are saving the world. As I would think you must be aware, Christians of many stripes give out of their plenty or lack, without calling attention to their deeds (the Biblical model of giving).

So, I would protest your assertion that Oprah and Bill Gates are at the forefront of giving to the poor. These people have their reward (praise from men), and God will reward those who give in secret (you know, the whole left hand, right hand thing).

164   Jerry    http://www.dangoldfinch.wordpress.com
November 21st, 2008 at 11:09 am

Chad,

About that water thing…you trust this group? Do they exist also around times of birthday’s, new years, easter, etc? Or are they only asking us to surrender our x-mas spending? I’m surprised no one has brought this to the attention of the federal government.

Well, I could make a lot of sarcastic jokes here, but we are having a serious discussion about who is and is not saved, who has clean water and who doesn’t, and I don’t want to anger anyone. I’m sort of leaning towards the idea of taking Scripture at its metaphorical face value. (That should cover all the bases.)

Anyhow, about the true meaning of x-mas—and about that water thing—-do you trust them?

jerry

165   Chad    http://www.chadholtz.wordpress.com
November 21st, 2008 at 11:15 am

Tension.

The last question asked in my theology class that just finished for the semester 10 minutes ago was this: How do we understand Paul’s declaration that “all of Israel will be saved” with other passages in John and Matthew that speak of judgment and the goats and Israel being cut at the root and condemnation, etc?

Dr. Carter, with only a few minutes to answer, made these 2 points that I found profound and would be happy to dialog about further (may be hard to understand the full impact of these two brief points without the preliminary stuff we went through – but a good starter is the essay I wrote here called “An Election Worth Voting For”).

point 1: In those texts of condemnation and judgment we must distinguish between the Jewish people and their leaders (bad shepherds). The most vociferous language in the NT is a language focused on the Jewish leaders, not the people. Also, the often harsh and strident language put in the mouth of Jesus is being uttered from within a family squabble. IOW, if we drop that language inside the church who thinks they have superseded Israel than it no doubt looks problematic. But if we see it as a disagreement WITHIN the household of faith rather than a fracture of that household (an attempt to redeem and right the ship) than we will read it another way.

Point 2: Also, in this language at no point do we get any kind of language that would suggest or says Israel is forever and always locked off from God. You do get language of harsh judgment but that is not new – it is all through the OT. Judgment is announced inside of YHWH’s final hesed(see Hosea 11) to the people (his YES to Israel – his covenant and desire to be their God)- thus Paul can still say “all Israel will be saved.”

166   Chad    http://www.chadholtz.wordpress.com
November 21st, 2008 at 11:22 am

Jerry,
I am still learning more about them but, yeah, I do. Or better yet, I trust the friends who have brought this to my attention.
I have a neighbor who was in Ethiopia drilling water wells last year. He talks about how lack of clean water is the biggest problem for most of the world and yet also the easiest problem for us to fix.

As for whether or not this organization is active at other times I am unsure. Personally, I think it is a good start to alter our focus during Christmas – a time where we as Christians become the ultimate consumer.

167   Jerry    http://www.dangoldfinch.wordpress.com
November 21st, 2008 at 11:22 am

Yes, all Israel will be saved. But Paul also says that not all who are born of Israel are Israel. That’s also an important aspect to notice in Romans.

168   Jerry    http://www.dangoldfinch.wordpress.com
November 21st, 2008 at 11:40 am

Furthermore, I’m troubled by your choice of words: ‘put into the mouth of Jesus…’ Maybe I’m reading it wrong, but that sounds almost as if to say that Jesus didn’t actually utter those words…

Then, Jesus did speak those words, yes; to Israel, yes. But those words were written down and preserved for the church. They were not written down and preserved for the nationalistic Israel, but for the house of faith, the Church. My point is that those words make no sense outside the church. We must understand them within the congregation of those who have been redeemed, and clearly not ‘all Israel’ has been redeemed. So either Paul is mistaken, or we must understand the terms ‘all Israel’ another way.

Paul can say all Israel will be saved because all Israel will be saved. But Israel does not constitute those who are merely circumcised in the flesh. Also, if you look at Revelation 7:4-9, you will see that John has the same idea about ‘all Israel’ being saved and that ‘all Israel’ consists of people from every tribe, nation, language, etc. IOW, there are only two nations before God: Israel and Gentiles. And these two ideas clarify the terms ’saved’ and ‘lost’ in Scripture.

Israel clearly takes on the idea of ‘the people of God’ (see 1 Peter that I referenced above) and Gentile clearly takes on the idea of those who dwell in the flesh apart from God. God only knows one nation as his people: Israel. But to make this nationalistic is foreign to Scripture and to Paul. These terms, while historically describing real people, become metaphors for our understanding of God’s work in redemption through Christ.

jerry

PS–i will not be able to respond again because I have to leave for my other job. i will, however, monitor this via blackberry and get back into it later.

169   Paul C    http://www.themidnightcry.com
November 21st, 2008 at 11:40 am

Chad, let me hazard a shot at the question of Israel – it’s an interesting point of discussion.

The OT and NT are both clear that Israel is the chosen nation of God.

But after rejecting Christ, they were turned over to blindness for a season UNTIL the fulness of gentiles (you and I) be brought into the fold.

At the end of the age, God will “return” and rebuild the tabernacle of David which is fallen down (Israel lost) and literally restore Israel to its place of enlightenment, turning them from blindness. (Acts 15:16, Zechariah being the original prophet).

You notice Paul says “UNTIL the fulness of Gentiles has come in.”

THEN, “The Deliverer (Jesus) will come from Zion…”

They are given over to blindness now, but will be enlightened and actually call for their Messiah when all nations rise against them in the end.

After rejecting Christ, that was – in effect – Israel writing God a letter of divorcement. The Lord turned to the Gentiles as part of His plan, and in effect, was married to us. However, once the church age is over, God returns to His original wife, Israel, to restore it. Poorly explained by me (lack of time), but the below scripture helps.

Isaiah 54, the Lord to Israel:

Fear not, for you will not be ashamed;
be not confounded, for you will not be disgraced;
for you will forget the shame of your youth,
and the reproach of your widowhood you will remember no more.
5 For your Maker is your husband,
the LORD of hosts is his name;
and the Holy One of Israel is your Redeemer,
the God of the whole earth he is called.
6 For the LORD has called you
like a wife deserted and grieved in spirit,
like a wife of youth when she is cast off,
says your God.
7 For a brief moment I deserted you,
but with great compassion I will gather you.
8 In overflowing anger for a moment
I hid my face from you,
but with everlasting love I will have compassion on you,”
says the LORD, your Redeemer.

I don’t believe “all Israel shall be saved” means that those who reject Christ still have a part in God’s kingdom. What I think Paul meant was that, as a nation, Israel is not eternally damned and will once again be restored. As he says, this is a mystery and His ways are truly unsearchable.

Thoughts? I don’t claim to have this nailed down by any means…

170   Pastorboy    http://www.thedowngrade2007.blogspot.com
November 21st, 2008 at 11:42 am

# 163

I agree. My point (though obviously not well made) was that we should be at the forefront of giving not in the sense that we get publicity, but that God gets the glory and the giving gets done because of who we are in Christ.

#162 Refer to # 167 and note:
Who is Paul writing to? If you figure this out, you will see who the all is. In all these quotes, Paul is writing to a specific body of Christians, with application to all Christians. All who are born of Israel are not Israel..so to speak. Which is why we must be born again to see the Kingdom of heaven; we do not experience a universal salvation. We must be born again.

171   corey    
November 21st, 2008 at 2:39 pm

PB -

Don’t you think it’s kind of hard to take the colossians 1 passage in particular to mean just a specific body of believers? I mean, all things in heaven, on earth, and under the earth can’t simply mean “the church of colossae circa 60 AD”

172   Pastorboy    http://www.thedowngrade2007.blogspot.com
November 21st, 2008 at 2:47 pm

171
The body of believers is the church, not just in Colossae circa 60 AD. It is the body of Christ at that time, addressed to the churches in that local area as well as the church that followed all the way to this day.

If all things are redeemed, corey, why is the earth slowly decaying? Hint: The answer is not global warming…

173   Phil Miller    http://pmwords.blogspot.com
November 21st, 2008 at 2:51 pm

If all things are redeemed, corey, why is the earth slowly decaying?

Well, people and animals still die, but Jesus defeated death and the grave on the cross. The redemption has been initiated but not consummated. We live in the overlapping period between the present age and the age to come.

In my mind, the question isn’t why is the earth slowly dying, but rather why is there life on the earth yet at all. It’s only by the grace of God that life is sustained here, and it’s only earth Him that the heavens and earth will be restored when Jesus returns.

174   Paul C    http://www.themidnightcry.com
November 21st, 2008 at 2:57 pm

So Phil – if someone rejects Christ, are they somehow still reconciled to God?

175   Pastorboy    http://www.thedowngrade2007.blogspot.com
November 21st, 2008 at 2:59 pm

Paul C.

Even better yet, if someone does not verbally reject Christ and dies in their sins will they still go to heaven?

176   Pastorboy    http://www.thedowngrade2007.blogspot.com
November 21st, 2008 at 3:00 pm

#173

Thanks, Corey! :)

177   Phil Miller    http://pmwords.blogspot.com
November 21st, 2008 at 3:07 pm

So Phil – if someone rejects Christ, are they somehow still reconciled to God?

Well, I believe they are forgiven by God. It’s just that there can’t be reconciliation without both parties agreeing to it.

So the way I see it is that hell is a prison in which the prisoner holds the key. To many, I believe the perceived comfort of their cell will keep them there for eternity.

I do believe that a person is responsible to make the choice while alive on earth. So I’m not saying that people won’t face some sort of judgment, although I do think that the way we perceive Hell is more because of Dante than the Bible.

178   Phil Miller    http://pmwords.blogspot.com
November 21st, 2008 at 3:10 pm

Even better yet, if someone does not verbally reject Christ and dies in their sins will they still go to heaven?

I believe “going to heaven” has little to do with the Gospel. Now if you want to ask the question whether or not they will be resurrected on the last day, that’s a valid question. Where they are in the intermediate is a good question as well.

179   Pastorboy    http://www.thedowngrade2007.blogspot.com
November 21st, 2008 at 3:15 pm

Phil
Can someone be reconciled to God if they die in their sins?

#177 sounds like a conversation I had with a JW the other day….

180   Phil Miller    http://pmwords.blogspot.com
November 21st, 2008 at 3:30 pm

Can someone be reconciled to God if they die in their sins?

We all will die in our sins. As far as I know there’s been no Christian who lived a sinless life even after coming to Christ.

The Gospel isn’t about managing our sins or making us more moral people. Jesus dealt with sin on the cross. The Gospel is about knowing the heart of God. It’s about knowing the love of the Father and proclaiming this throughout the earth.

So if you’re asking if someone can have a relationship with God without saying the “sinner’s prayer”, I would say maybe. Overall, it’s not my worry.

181   Paul C    http://www.themidnightcry.com
November 21st, 2008 at 3:31 pm

Receiving salvation is an acknowledgement on our part. God has taken 99 steps, so to speak, and He is asking us to take 1 – receive His provision in Christ, the offering for our sins.

The point is that though salvation is open to ALL, not all will be reconciled to God. It’s not God’s fault – it’s the

In order to receive this offering, we must repent from our old lifestyle and embark on a path where Christ is our Lord. We stumble and fail daily, but in this Christ is still our Lord and Saviour.

Let me go so far as to say: rejection doesn’t just mean turning our back on God, but also entails not fully embracing what He’s provided for eternal life.

although I do think that the way we perceive Hell is more because of Dante than the Bible.

100% agreement. Hell is not a physical place at all, but simply death – as was very clear in the OT (’sheol’ – the abode of the dead, where there is no consciousness).

Also, death is cast into the lake of fire at the end. What is the lake of fire? The second (permanent) death from which they is no recovery.

Where they are in the intermediate is a good question as well.

Dead – as in “Stephen fell asleep” (awaiting Christ’s return) or as Paul tells us, about the crown of righteousness he will receive “at that day.” Or as Peter said on the day of Pentecost regarding David – “He is both dead and buried and his sepulchre is with us until this day.”

When Jesus returns?

“Then shall be brought to pass the saying, ‘death where is your sting’ and ‘grave where is your victory.’” Until then… death has a sting and the grave has a temporary victory UNTIL all things are reconciled (turned back) to the Father.

182   amy    
November 21st, 2008 at 3:36 pm

Also, I think this discussion disturbs some of our assumptions about what we have the power to do and not do. It illuminates how we have fallen prey to the trap of loving others but with an agenda. It is to say: I will be your neighbor but only insofar as I can try to convert you. I am trying to unlearn that way of living the Christian life. Frankly, I think it is actually counter productive to what the Gospel truly is and how it is to be proclaimed.

I am trying to learn how to give a cup of cold water to someone not because I see them as heading to hell and needing my message to fix that, but rather, I want to give them a cup of water because they are a child of the living God and loved by God – period. My hunch is that they have never thought that or been treated as a human being made in God’s image rather than a potential convert and in that gesture alone, space is opened for the Holy Spirit to do what only the Holy Spirit can do.

Much of this statement, but especially the last sentence really bothers me. Who is this “they” who have not been treated with love but as “potential converts?” Who is saying “I will be your neighbor but only insofar as I can try to convert you?”

I would really like to know, who is this “they?” I know lots of missionaries who work overseas, from many different backgrounds, and not one of them would I describe as only treating people as “potential converts.” Not a single one.

I know plenty of “theys” who have been treated as the ultimate object of God’s incredible love, by God’s empowering someone to go and live with them, get their diseases, be mocked by them, become part of their political turmoil.

Most people don’t pour years, decades, even their retirement years into building relationships with people who are so very, very different than themselves without having some comprehension of the love of God for those people. Love that makes them weep for people that could even do them (and worse yet, their children) great harm. The deep love that would never think of stopping at sharing physical blessings. No, it’s LIVES that are shared, lives that have themselves been touched by the redeeming love of Jesus Christ. Lives that, touched by that redeeming love, could not bear to think that NOT SHARING THE VERBAL MESSAGE OF GOD”S REDEEMING LOVE WOULD BE A GOOD THING, indeed “counterproductive to the Gospel itself.”

God gives them the deep love that enables them to live day after day in actually knowing the people and understanding who they really are, and their language, because Jesus Christ Himself wants to make Himself known to them.

Do you yourself understand the passion of Jesus Christ poured into people that enables them to love others with the love of Christ? The passion of Jesus Christ would not think of stopping short of revealing His ultimate gift.

183   Paul C    http://www.themidnightcry.com
November 21st, 2008 at 3:43 pm

Amy – exceptionally well said.

184   Rick Frueh    http://judahslion.blogspot.com/
November 21st, 2008 at 3:47 pm

I believe the cross treats the entire world as “potential converts”, not just human beings “originally” made in God’s image (whatever that means in its fulness). The supreme act of redemption is the message we have been commanded to share to every potential convert.

That dismissive view of “potential converts” both underestimates their dire condition and diminishes the message of redemption through the cross of Jesus Christ alone.

185   Chad    http://www.chadholtz.wordpress.com
November 21st, 2008 at 4:15 pm

Jerry, sorry for not getting to your posts sooner…

I don’t think I like the word ‘recruit’, but I see your point in using it. I have been having this battle, inside, in prayer, and in preaching, over this issue of salvation. We in American Evangelicalism tend to make ’salvation’ a very private, me-centered thing.

In hindsight I do not like the word “recruit”" either. I think I might have been having flashbacks from my days in the Navy :) You were generous in your reading of that, however, which I appreciate. What I was going for is Paul’s language of us becoming “co-laborers” with Christ.
I couldn’t agree more with you that in America evangelicalism salvation has become all about “me” and my “personal” Jesus.

We call one at a time; God calls a people. Nevertheless, it is individuals who are called to make up a people, no?

Or, it is the community which constitutes one as an individual. There is a lot I want to say about this but for time’s sake won’t right now. But to be brief: Paul C called it, um, goobledygook when I said that salvation is in part our becoming “fully human.” I would argue that we do not know what it means to be human until we are in relationship with God and allow God to name us (God gives us our identity rather than our seizing it (see Phil 2 and Abram, Jacob, John the Baptist and Jesus to name a few). I think it could be a mistake (and again, is a vestige of our fallenness) to assume that we come to a community as self-made/named individuals. Rather, the community names us. This is why we baptize. We immerse what was an individual into God’s immersion into us – thus rendering them as newly constituted – a human being.

God named Israel and called Israel his son. They were a people who were given their identity by God rather than seize their identity like other nation states (we see the tension of their desire to be like the other nations throughout the OT – such as where they want a king). But Israel was never a people folded in on itself- they were a people constituted to always be open to the world. Insofar as Israel lived into this they were in step with God. God’s plan was to bless the world (the nations – i.e Gentiles, every non-Jew) through them. Salvation would come to the world through the Jews.

how is that for brief? :)

186   Chad    http://www.chadholtz.wordpress.com
November 21st, 2008 at 4:37 pm

Then, Jesus did speak those words, yes; to Israel, yes. But those words were written down and preserved for the church. They were not written down and preserved for the nationalistic Israel, but for the house of faith, the Church. My point is that those words make no sense outside the church. We must understand them within the congregation of those who have been redeemed, and clearly not ‘all Israel’ has been redeemed. So either Paul is mistaken, or we must understand the terms ‘all Israel’ another way.

Jerry, I grant that this is the conventional wisdom. That those words were written down “for the sake of the Church” and they only make sense inside the Church.

I am no longer convinced of this, however, and am not sure I can fully articulate why (I’m working on it). To be blunt, I would turn that statement around on its head and say that we cannot understand any of that outside the story of Israel. I think the mistake of theology for the past many, many decades (even centuries) is that we have allowed the Church to supercede Israel. Truth is, the church cannot understand herself apart or outside of Israel.

One definition of who the Church is, would be: The Church is that community which have heard Israel’s report (witness) and believed it. And we are the Church only insofar as we are properly reflecting back to Israel that witness (it is here that I would argue we have failed them). We do not stand outside Israel. We are now “grafted in” and part of the story.

God only knows one nation as his people: Israel.

True. But that “nation,” which is a community only by sheer gift of God, is a people that are open to the world. The OT hints time and time again that they are to reach the nations. We who are not of Israel are s.o.l unless something is done to grant us access into this peoplehood. This is why I say it is a mistake of modern theology to separate the “church” from Israel – it cuts us off from the place from whence salvation comes.

peace.

187   Chad    http://www.chadholtz.wordpress.com
November 21st, 2008 at 5:22 pm

p.s. Did I just say “whence”? Yikes!

188   Phil Miller    http://pmwords.blogspot.com
November 21st, 2008 at 5:40 pm

p.s. Did I just say “whence”? Yikes!

Verily, thou didst!

189   Chad    http://www.chadholtz.wordpress.com
November 21st, 2008 at 5:47 pm

After rejecting Christ, that was – in effect – Israel writing God a letter of divorcement. The Lord turned to the Gentiles as part of His plan, and in effect, was married to us. However, once the church age is over, God returns to His original wife, Israel, to restore it.

Paul C-
I can appreciate where you are going with this and understand the sentiment around it.
Let me push in another direction though, ok?
I am not sure we can say Israel “divorced” God by saying they rejected their Messiah. Truth is, it was only some of Israel who did and those were predominately the leaders (the bad shepherds spoken of in Ezek. 34 and elewhere). Truth is, the first followers of Jesus were Jews. The church was birthed by Jews – Israel – and so to say Israel “divorced” God is not the full story. Mary said “yes” for instance.

The power of the Gospel is that God has uttered a “yes” that is louder than our “no.” God judges our refusal of him. IOW, God refuses our refusal of him in Jesus Christ. The cry of derilection on the cross, when Jesus says “my God, my God, why have you forsaken me” is sum total of Israel’s “no” being uttered. The miracle is that God traverses the expanse of our NO and raises Jesus from the dead, declaring that he gets the final word – and his word is a “yes” to Creation despite our “no.”

I think the Church has long seen herself as the one to whom God has now turned to, thus forsaking Israel (even if for just a time). I think it is not to strong of a word to say that insofar as we view ourselves as God’s special people outside of Israel we, the church, are in sin – we are turned inward upon ourselves. It is no wonder Israel has rejected our witness. As I commented above to Jerry, the church is by definition those who have heard the promises of Israel and have accepted that witness as true. We in turn are to reflect Israel’s witness back upon Israel, thus affirming or ratifying their witness from ages past. We fail in this when we assert ourselves over and against them – as though they are no longer relevant. And so, it is no wonder Israel rejects the Church’s witness because we have become a people that are not open outward to the nations, the world, in the way YHWH beckoned Israel to be.

Just thinking out loud here…..thanks for the space to air some of this out….

190   Chad    http://www.chadholtz.wordpress.com
November 21st, 2008 at 5:52 pm

So Phil – if someone rejects Christ, are they somehow still reconciled to God?

Phil, your answers in 177, 178 and 180 were great.

Paul, my simple answer would be: Yes.

191   Chad    http://www.chadholtz.wordpress.com
November 21st, 2008 at 5:56 pm

Receiving salvation is an acknowledgement on our part. God has taken 99 steps, so to speak, and He is asking us to take 1 – receive His provision in Christ, the offering for our sins.

Paul, I would say that we are legless and God in Jesus Christ has taken all the steps, above and beyond what we might think required, out of God’s abundant love for the world.

192   Paul C    http://www.themidnightcry.com
November 21st, 2008 at 6:03 pm

It is no wonder Israel has rejected our witness.

Israel has rejected our witness because, as Paul says, blindness – in part – has happened to Israel. A remnant, as he alludes to earlier in Romans 11, did accept Christ but the vast majority didn’t (hence the reference to the very few as in Elijah’s day).

The Lord has not allowed them (as a nation) to receive what the Gentiles are receiving. Again – this is in part, as Jews individually have turned to Christ.

This blindness occurs UNTIL the fulness of the Gentiles is brought into the fold. Then the Lord returns to build the tabernacle of Israel which is fallen down.

And so, it is no wonder Israel rejects the Church’s witness because we have become a people that are not open outward to the nations, the world, in the way YHWH beckoned Israel to be.

Not sure I understand this reasoning at all…

Isaiah 54 does a great job of showing that Israel was cut off for a time so that we, the Gentiles, could be brought into the fold. James also understood this when he said, “Simeon has related how God first visited the Gentiles, to take from them a people for his name.”

We are being “visited” for a season, then he returns to the Jews…

193   Chad    http://www.chadholtz.wordpress.com
November 21st, 2008 at 6:08 pm

Paul C-
I dont think Isa 54 is saying anything of the sort that you are suggesting. I dont read that as predictive prophecy about what is going to happen after Pentecost. Isaiah is talking to real people in a real time – a time of imminent exile and bondage. Thus, it is a great word of comfort to his hearers to hear the prophet say:

For a brief moment I deserted you,
but with great compassion I will gather you.

194   Paul C    http://www.themidnightcry.com
November 21st, 2008 at 6:33 pm

The first few verses deal with gentiles (barren at first) then he addresses and comforts Israel. Its almost parallel with Rom 11

195   Paul C    http://www.themidnightcry.com
November 21st, 2008 at 7:14 pm

or, if Is 54 doesn’t outline it enough see:

Matt 23: when Jesus lamented the turning away of Israel (Oh Jerusalem, Jerusalem…). They will be blinded UNTIL they say, Blessed is he that comes in the name of the Lord.

Or, Zechariah, from which James was quoting in Acts 15:13-14.

God loved Israel, but he has allowed them to be blind, while the barren wife (the gentiles) bring forth. However, He will return and build their tabernacle again – once the fulness of the church is brought in (ie: God’s elect).

196   Chad    http://www.chadholtz.wordpress.com
November 21st, 2008 at 7:22 pm

Paul-
How do you get that Isa 54, or even some of it, is about Gentiles? The entire chapter is about Zion. I see nothing that would be about Gentiles at all.

197   Chad    http://www.chadholtz.wordpress.com
November 21st, 2008 at 7:39 pm

Matt 23: when Jesus lamented the turning away of Israel (Oh Jerusalem, Jerusalem…). They will be blinded UNTIL they say, Blessed is he that comes in the name of the Lord.

Again, you have to read this as a family squabble – a long history of strident language used to rebuke and correct family members – people who are of the household of God.

Or, Zechariah, from which James was quoting in Acts 15:13-14.

Do you mean to say Amos and vs. 16-17?

I wrote my final paper in an Acts exegesis class on that passage. If you are interested you can read it here:
A Paradigm for the Way of Jesus

God loved Israel, but he has allowed them to be blind, while the barren wife (the gentiles) bring forth.

The barren wife is Israel, if you are again referring to the beginning of Isa. 54.

peace.

198   Chad    http://www.chadholtz.wordpress.com
November 21st, 2008 at 8:16 pm

This has been a nice diversion but I am still curious if anyone is going to take the advent challenge or something like it this Christmas?

199   Jerry    http://www.dangoldfinch.wordpress.com
November 21st, 2008 at 9:22 pm

Phil,

So the way I see it is that hell is a prison in which the prisoner holds the key. To many, I believe the perceived comfort of their cell will keep them there for eternity.

I do believe that a person is responsible to make the choice while alive on earth. So I’m not saying that people won’t face some sort of judgment, although I do think that the way we perceive Hell is more because of Dante than the Bible.

Yes, that part about the prisoner being safe inside I think echoes what CS Lewis wrote or said about the doors to hell being locked from the inside. This falls short, however, in that it doesn’t seem the person is actually given the chance to repent once their or that they will desire to. The parable of Lazarus says there is a ‘fixed gap which cannot be crossed.’

Agreed also that we borrow much from Dante, but still those pictures in Scripture are fairly difficult to overcome even though we lack Dante’s imagination.

jerry

200   Pastorboy    http://crninfo.wordpress.com
November 21st, 2008 at 9:23 pm

What was the advent challenge?

201   Jerry    http://www.dangoldfinch.wordpress.com
November 21st, 2008 at 9:25 pm

Paul C,

100% agreement. Hell is not a physical place at all, but simply death – as was very clear in the OT (’sheol’ – the abode of the dead, where there is no consciousness).

Also, death is cast into the lake of fire at the end. What is the lake of fire? The second (permanent) death from which they is no recovery.

eh. I don’t think this squares too well with what Jesus taught. The rich man in the Lazarus parable was quite aware of his surroundings and his state. If the fire is not quenched, and the worm does not die…well, I’m just saying, some argue for annihilation, but some serious gymnastics must be accomplished with the Scripture to make hell less than literal.

jerry

202   Phil Miller    http://pmwords.blogspot.com
November 21st, 2008 at 9:53 pm

The parable of the rich man and Lazarus isn’t a universal statement about who goes to heaven and who goes to hell. I would say it’s not even meant to be a description of hell. The word used for hell in the parable is Hades, the place where the dead were just thought to go for the most part.

But anyway, the point of the parable is that the rich man was supposedly a good, blessed Jew. He had good things while on earth, so he thought he was all good. The fact was he missed the point. He should have helped Lazarus while he had the chance.

Jesus is telling this parable in the context of announcing the Kingdom is breaking into earth. The poor, sick, and outcast are seeing it, but the rich and powerful are missing it.

203   Jerry    http://www.dangoldfinch.wordpress.com
November 21st, 2008 at 9:53 pm

Chad,

Per 186, I think the problem you are having is in understanding the role of Israel’s election to service and not to salvation. I don’t deny for a minute that we must reflect upon the historical witness of the people who were the servants of God, ie., Israel, and that perhaps some day they will awaken to Jesus. But it is only to Jesus they must awaken.

I don’t disagree either that we have been grafted into Israel. Thoroughly biblical concept straight out of Romans and perhaps John. But again, we have not been grafted into the physical, national expression of Israel. We are not Jews of the flesh, but Jews of the heart; that is circumcised in the heart by the Spirit of God.

Still, when one goes back to the beginning, say Genesis 12, we see that God’s plan has always been to bless ‘all the nations.’ To be sure, Abraham was not specifically even Jewish. He was, uh, Urian? Chaldean? Israel didn’t exist until later and remember that it is those who are the sons of Abraham not the sons of Israel who are among the children of God. Read Matthew 1 and Luke 1-2: it is Abraham and David who take priority in those places–not necessarily Israel.

If you read my response carefully, you will note that I am not in any way cutting off the church from Israel. I am, however, properly defining Israel as God’s true people who are drawn from all the people’s of earth and not specifically or only from the national Israel (hence my reference to the Revelation 7). Still, Paul carefully uses the word ‘Israel’ in two different ways in Romans. He uses it to describe the physical, circumcised in the flesh, national Jews, and he uses it to describe the combined people of God into whom the Gentiles have been grafted, circumcised in the heart by the Spirit, drawn from every nation people. This is not to merely spiritualize the concept, even though there is clearly a spiritual element involved, but it is to demonstrate that the use of the word in context must be observed. It’s all rather thrilling!

This brings us back to understanding that Israel was called, elected, to service and not to salvation. Paul’s argument is that even those Israelites were saved by grace through faith. That is Abraham’s legacy: Faith. There were many in Israel (national) who had no faith and were clearly not among those ’saved.’ Only those with faith were saved and only those with faith will now be saved–all by the grace of God.

Now as for understanding and insight and the Scripture being written for the church…well who else was it written for? Surely not for the ‘pagans,’ or even for the Jews. The Scripture is the history of God, his redemptive work, his salvation and will to crush the head of the serpent through the seed of the woman. This is Matthew’s point in the genealogy: Jesus is the fulfillment of the history of Israel. (Note also, that he is the last name in the genealogy, a significant point not to be missed.) The Old Covenant is finished and according to Hebrews superseded, replaced, by the New Covenant which is found only in Christ Jesus. This Scripture–well, Paul seems fairly convinced that apart from Christ Scripture cannot even be understood (2 Corinthians 3:14-16) and he also seems convinced in 1 Corinthians 10 that Scripture was ‘written for us on whom the culmination of the ages has come’ (1 Cor 10:11).

Now this is the sort of conversation I enjoy. I suspect, Chad, that if we are taking up too much space, we can move this to email. I don’t want to bore people with all this. After all, this is supposed to be a thread about Christmas. I love discussing theology and delight in this opportunity to do so. :)

jerry

204   Jerry    http://www.dangoldfinch.wordpress.com
November 21st, 2008 at 10:03 pm

Phil,

The parable of the rich man and Lazarus isn’t a universal statement about who goes to heaven and who goes to hell. I would say it’s not even meant to be a description of hell. The word used for hell in the parable is Hades, the place where the dead were just thought to go for the most part.

If I gave the impression it was, I’m sorry. Still, parables typically contain ideas that are rooted in reality. IOW, Jesus didn’t invent this scenario just so he could make a point–even if that point is the one you propose. I’ll even grant your basic interpretation for the sake of the argument, but that doesn’t mean the general impression that there is a ‘place’ called hell or hades and that the person there is aware of his surroundings, is untrue. I don’t think I said it is a description of hell. I think it is a picture of awareness of surroundings and not, as it were, a picture of someone who has been annihilated after they died. That’s all I was trying to say.

jerry

PS–I don’t think you can minimize the story, either, to merely ‘this guy was rich’ and ‘this guy was poor.’ Jeremias had the idea that it should be tied closely with the previous parable of the two brothers–one who repented and one who did not (Luke 15). Thus, as Peterson writes, piggybacking on Jeremias, ‘Did the elder brother repent and join the resurrection celebration–or not? Will the five brothers repent and join the resurrection celebration–or not?’ (Tell it Slant, 117). I think the parable, if it’s about anything, it’s about repentance and perhaps tangentially, resurrection.

205   Jerry    http://www.dangoldfinch.wordpress.com
November 21st, 2008 at 10:06 pm

Also, even if your interpretation is correct, and I’ll grant you that for the sake of the argument, that doesn’t mean there is no fixed gap between the two places as is stated in the parable.

jerry

206   Rick Frueh    http://judahslion.blogspot.com/
November 21st, 2008 at 10:22 pm

The parable of the rich man in hell was an expose on principle, dealing with what is actually important as it pertains to eternity. The description of suffering by the rich man, and his passion about preventing his brothers from coming, is not to be dismissed as a general description concerning the “ambiance” of hades/hell or whatever word you want to use.

In the end, it speaks volumes about a place that should be avoided at all costs.

207   Phil Miller    http://pmwords.blogspot.com
November 21st, 2008 at 10:50 pm

Jeremias had the idea that it should be tied closely with the previous parable of the two brothers–one who repented and one who did not (Luke 15). Thus, as Peterson writes, piggybacking on Jeremias, ‘Did the elder brother repent and join the resurrection celebration–or not? Will the five brothers repent and join the resurrection celebration–or not?’ (Tell it Slant, 117). I think the parable, if it’s about anything, it’s about repentance and perhaps tangentially, resurrection.

That’s essentially whay N.T. Wright says as well. I don’t disagree with that.

All I’m saying is that Jesus didn’t make this parable up just to make some general statement about what hell was like. He was taking a common folk tale and turning it on its head. The rich would have been considered blessed already, so for Jesus to state they were the ones facing the prospect of judgment was big deal. Both the rich and the poor man were Jews, also, so the fact that one ends up facing judgment.

As far as the resurrection, I would say it’s all tied up in Israel’s hope for redemption. So by telling people to repent, Jesus is telling them to do it while they still can lest they miss what God’s doing and face judgment. So, there both a corporate and personal aspect to it.

208   Paul C    http://www.themidnightcry.com
November 22nd, 2008 at 12:23 am

Jerry – a question. Is Abraham (from the parable you brought up) in heaven right now?

209   Rick Frueh    http://judahslion.blogspot.com/
November 22nd, 2008 at 9:01 am

Parables lend themselves to over interpretation and with that comes varying degrees of doctrinal manipulation. The obvious theme of the rich man in hell parables is the deceitfulness of riches, especially as it pertains to spiritual things and God’s favor.

But the general setting in which Christ presents this truth cannot be ignored, but neither should it be doctrinally foundational. For instance, based upon the teachings of the epistles we cannot use this parable to suggest all rich people go to hell.

So this parable was another step in bringing Israel and us to a deeper understanding of the blessings of Abraham as being in Christ, not in things.

The description of hell, however, should not be totally dismissed as fictional window dressing.

210   Chad    http://www.chadholtz.wordpress.com
November 22nd, 2008 at 9:04 am

Per 186, I think the problem you are having is in understanding the role of Israel’s election to service and not to salvation. I don’t deny for a minute that we must reflect upon the historical witness of the people who were the servants of God, ie., Israel, and that perhaps some day they will awaken to Jesus. But it is only to Jesus they must awaken.

Jerry,
I’m not sure I understand the above. I would say that Israel’s election is their salvation. Their service is a response to that salvation, just as it is with Gentiles today. In fact, I would say they are two sides of the same coin. Willimon describs salvation as multi-faceted and one of the definitions he gives salvation is that it’s a vocation. I like that.
Perhaps I am not reading your correctly, though. Are you suggesting that Israel’s election is not about salvation? If so, why?

But again, we have not been grafted into the physical, national expression of Israel.

Agreed. But I would argue that neither has Israel. Not, at least, as they are meant to be. When I speak of Israel I am not speaking of the national state or the ethnic people. I am speaking of they who were chosen by God to be his people and insofar as they were obedient to YHWH’s calling them out and insofar as they received their identity from God and not from the world (as a nationstate, perhaps) they are Israel. Israel is not a people constituted by themselves and for themselves by constituted by God and for the world.
In this sense, then, when we are grafted in to the Israel described here the nationstate or ethnicity does not matter. What matters is that in our baptism we recieve our identity and are reoriented to the world in the way Israel was always meant to be. Does that make sense? I don’t think I am articulating this very well yet. It is stuff I am working through at present.

I’ll have to return to the rest of your post in a bit…..I, too, am enjoying this conversation! Thanks for being such a good convo partner.

peace.

211   Chad    http://www.chadholtz.wordpress.com
November 22nd, 2008 at 9:49 am

Still, when one goes back to the beginning, say Genesis 12, we see that God’s plan has always been to bless ‘all the nations.’ To be sure, Abraham was not specifically even Jewish. He was, uh, Urian? Chaldean? Israel didn’t exist until later and remember that it is those who are the sons of Abraham not the sons of Israel who are among the children of God. Read Matthew 1 and Luke 1-2: it is Abraham and David who take priority in those places–not necessarily Israel.

Yes! Abram was not specifically Jewish but he is certainly a birth point for the people who would be named “Israel.” It is precisely this movement from Chaldea to a place God invites and initiates that is the movement of salvation. Abram is “saved” so long as he is obedient to the one who says, “Go.” I have a short meditation on this mixing N.T. Wright’s Thomas Oratio with the call of Abram in Gen 12. Living In Chaldea. That might shed light on what I am talking about when I say “saved.” I am not talking about our eternal destiny – that is something I leave to God and trust in the complete and finished work of Christ. I am saying that Abram is saved today (and likewise, we are) when our eyes are opened and we realize that we are not the center of the world – but there is a way of being (a land) beyond this one.

212   Rick Frueh    http://judahslion.blogspot.com/
November 22nd, 2008 at 12:03 pm

Metaphorical interpretation without Pauline foundation is as subjectively expansive as each personal imagination can take it. Using the New Testament as the doctrinal Rosetta Stone it becomes obvious that the calling of Abram had little to do with Abram and everything to do with the coming Messiah.

213   Chad    http://www.chadholtz.wordpress.com
November 22nd, 2008 at 12:06 pm

Rick,
I’m not sure I follow what point your making. Could you elaborate? Perhaps I am just hungry :)

214   Rick Frueh    http://judahslion.blogspot.com/
November 22nd, 2008 at 12:15 pm

1. We can make the Old Testament narratives say anything we desire without the moorings of the New Testament epistles. The dualistic interpretation of being “saved” is not substantiated in the epistles, so your “Abram is saved through obedience” as it applies to his earthly life is unsupported.

2. God called Abram to make for Himself a people through which the Messiah would come and salvation through the shedding of blood would be foreshadowed.

The entirety of the Old Testament is a collection of narratives which all have a redemptive essence and all point to the coming Messiah. They surely have moral principles etc., but their core and purpose is to reveal Christ and His salvation.

The core and vital significance of salvation is eternal life, and the residual effects that can and should be seen through this life are reflections of that eternal life. What should it profit a man if he gains the whole world and loses his own soul. The message of redemption is eternal – that which will come, and it is to be preached and lived this side of physical death.

To minimize the coming life at the expense of this one is not Christianity, it is humanism.

215   Chad    http://www.chadholtz.wordpress.com
November 22nd, 2008 at 12:31 pm

1. We can make the Old Testament narratives say anything we desire without the moorings of the New Testament epistles. The dualistic interpretation of being “saved” is not substantiated in the epistles, so your “Abram is saved through obedience” as it applies to his earthly life is unsupported.

Likewise, we can make the NT say anything we want without the moorings of the Hebrew scriptures. The question the patristics had when they read scripture was not “how do we make the OT fit into the NT?” but rather, “how do we fit Jesus into the OT?”

Abram is saved through obedience” as it applies to his earthly life is unsupported.

I disagree. Abram was saved through faith – faith (trust) which was his obedience to God saying “Go” and Abram’s going. Faith and obedience are not two separate realities.

2. God called Abram to make for Himself a people through which the Messiah would come and salvation through the shedding of blood would be foreshadowed.

I don’t disagree with that but just so we realize this is an interpolation back into the text.
Abram was simply following God’s lead. We can read into that Messianic foreshadowing but I don’t see how that conflicts with anything I have said to this point. Does it?

To minimize the coming life at the expense of this one is not Christianity, it is humanism.

Who is minimizing the coming life? I am merely emphasizing the fact that one’s eternity begins now. I would argue that for far too long Christian evangelicals have OVER emphasized the eternal (after death) aspect of salvation to the detriment or exclusion of anything else. That is not the focus of scripture – AT ALL. No one is running around in either the Old or New Testament saying, “Accept Jesus as your Savior so you can go to heaven after you die.” If that is not the emphasis why are we making it as such?

216   Rick Frueh    http://judahslion.blogspot.com/
November 22nd, 2008 at 12:38 pm

“That is not the focus of scripture – AT ALL.”

That is your interpretation, not mine. The parable about which we were discussing centers on where they went AFTER they died. The last enemy to be defeated is death. O death…etc.. I am the resurrection and the life, he that believes on me , THOUGH HE WERE DEAD, yet shall he live.

The entire Biblical narrative has at its core eternal life which cannot be gained by any accumulation of works this side of death. All men will die, where will they go? Jn.3:16 says it all, unless you pull the phrase “everlasting life” to mean doing good on this earth. I realize you are attempting to incorperate both this life and the after death life as one, but you seem to place the emphasis on this life and “leave the after death life to God”.

How Calvinistic of you.

217   Chad    http://www.chadholtz.wordpress.com
November 22nd, 2008 at 12:50 pm

Rick,
My point is the emphasis on evangelism in the NT is not about getting to heaven after you die. It is about announcing who the true Lord of heaven and earth is and inviting people to see with new eyes and work alongside this risen Christ led by the Spirit to bring God’s will “on earth as it is heaven.” That is what we are called to do – to make disciples.

I do not see the call to evangelize as our canvasing the world trying to win converts so that they don’t live an eternity in hell after they die. I see our task as loving the lost because Christ first loved us and in that love there is transforming power – power that raises from the dead, even – power that enables people to say “I once was blind but now I see” and to live into their true identity (the identity that Abram found only after he left his walled off world of Chaldea and stepped into God’s new world).

As for leaving the after death life to God, if that is Calvinist so be it – I also find it to be the scriptural as well as the historic understanding of our faith. My task is not to worry about eternity or to be anxious over it. My task is today. My task is to put one foot in front of the other and follow the Spirit’s lead and trust that God has “the whole world in His hand” while inviting others to see themselves in this journey as well.

peace.

218   Paul C    http://www.themidnightcry.com
November 22nd, 2008 at 1:53 pm

All men will die, where will they go?

I really believe this is integral to our understanding of the scriptures, and really, the hope of the gospel.

Both Christ and the apostles (not to mention the OT) agree that eternity is not weighed in terms of heaven and hell, but in terms of life and death. That is John 3:16, but it is also Romans 6 (the wages of sin = death, the gift of God = eternal life).

Really the core scripture that people who believe in heaven/hell cling to is the parable of the Rich Man and Lazarus. I think Rick is correct in that this is not a teaching of destinations, but a direct message to the Pharisees. Also, consider Abraham is also dead right now, awaiting the resurrection: John 3:13.

In John 6, Jesus makes 3 references in one lesson to: “I will raise him up at the last day.” (They are other instances as well). When Lazarus died, what did Mary say? “Lord I know that you will raise him up at the last day…” That is the correct understanding.

Paul talks about this in 1 Cor 15: Christ the firstfruits then they that are His at HIS COMING. He also rejoices about the crown of righteousness he will receive AT THAT DAY…

The gift of God is eternal life: when Jesus returns and establishes the kingdom of God upon this earth. It is not us spending an eternity in heaven.

219   Chad    http://www.chadholtz.wordpress.com
November 22nd, 2008 at 1:59 pm

Paul-
To be absent from this body is to be with Christ (says St. Paul). Thus, to die is not to be “dead.” Abraham is not dead, but makes up that “great cloud of witnesses” that the writer of Hebrews speaks of. The thief on the cross is not “dead” but is with Christ in “paradise.”
N.T. Wright talks about the life after life after death. One might say that the time between death here and the bodily resurrection is spent in “paradise.” It is a place where we are present with Christ awaiting what the entire creation is waiting for – resurrection.

220   Rick Frueh    http://judahslion.blogspot.com/
November 22nd, 2008 at 2:12 pm

When you render personal faith in Christ as preferable and not essential to eternal life, you have eviscerated the core of the gospel. That view naturally emanates from an unbiblical and unified view of the destination of human spirits.

There are two, and only two, destinations of human spirits. Call each “place” what you will, parse the linguistics, and unscripturally expand salvation, but we are still left with clear teachings that must either be believed or “redefined”.

If there is no hell than we who taught its existance will be considered harsh and Dantesque. If there is a hell, than those who taught otherwise will be considered the worst of all false prophets.

Eternity will one day reveal who was who.

221   Chad    http://www.chadholtz.wordpress.com
November 22nd, 2008 at 2:24 pm

When you render personal faith in Christ as preferable and not essential to eternal life, you have eviscerated the core of the gospel.

huh? Rick, you are normally a balanced reader and comprehend others very well so I am going to assume it is my fault for not articulating this very well.

Let me be clear while using your language: Faith in Christ is essential for eternal life. Not “preferable.”

Where I think you and I are at odds is our take on what exactly eternal life is. “Eternal life” as used by John could very well be John’s way of saying “Kingdom of Heaven/God” which the synoptics use. And to be sure, Kingdom of Heaven is NOT about a destination after one dies. “Eternal life” is literally “life of the ages” and in John’s day the question in the pubs and coffee shops was, “how does one have the life of the ages, or, eternal life?”
Jesus said he came to give life and life “abundantly.” He is not speaking of a life after we die but a life today – here and now.

I agree completely that we have in scripture a promise of life after death. But immortality is not something we possess – only God does (see 1 Timothy 4, I think).
Nor is this life after death and the destination one goes the thrust of the NT or the motivation for one to place faith in Christ.
Again, no one is going around saying, “hey, believe in Jesus so you can go to heaven after you die.” (and to reiterate, that is EXACTLY the gospel message we have been preaching for years now – the emphasis has been about some future after death and very little if any to do with today).

222   Chad    http://www.chadholtz.wordpress.com
November 22nd, 2008 at 2:27 pm

If there is no hell than we who taught its existance will be considered harsh and Dantesque. If there is a hell, than those who taught otherwise will be considered the worst of all false prophets.

Again, who said there is no hell?

What I have said is that I have hope that hell will be empty, OR, not exist. It is one thing to have hope for that and another thing entirely to make declarations about its nonexistence.

I believe the warnings about hell in the NT are prescriptive rather than predictive. They describe a reality that could be rather than one that most certainly is.

223   Rick Frueh    http://judahslion.blogspot.com/
November 22nd, 2008 at 2:34 pm

“I believe the warnings about hell in the NT are prescriptive rather than predictive. They describe a reality that could be rather than one that most certainly is.”

Chad – that is a circular statement which is philisophical in nature rather than any substantive reality. It also lends itself to a uncertain rendering of Biblical interpretation at the most basic of spiritual issues. It appears to be hopeful that the most unpleasant teachings in the New Testament are either untrue or unused.

I am sure that is not what Biblical hope means.

224   Chad    http://www.chadholtz.wordpress.com
November 22nd, 2008 at 2:37 pm

Rick,
It is the same hope that I find from Genesis to Revelation – that God is relentless in pursuing his creation and redeeming it.

This is the God who desires NONE should perish.

My statement above is not circular nor is it philosophical but based entirely on the character of God and the nature of God as revealed to us in Jesus Christ, the one who said that if he be lifted up he will draw ALL men to himself and through whom ALL things have been reconciled to God.

I am sure that hope is far more robust than we can even imagine.

225   Rick Frueh    http://judahslion.blogspot.com/
November 22nd, 2008 at 2:50 pm

It’s all good then…

What kind of God stands by and witnesses the profound suffering and injustice upon this “reconciled” creation? What kind of divine nature has the capacity to step in and save children from the horror of rape, starvation, AIDS, and a host of inflictions, and yet allows them to continue?

You can interpret Scripture as metaphorical (God wipes out whole cities, etc), but I have seen this suffering with my own eyes. So I can draw from this that God’s goodness is different than just making everything OK.

In your view of total reconciliation, what is God waiting for? More suffering? More rape? More disease? More war? There is something going on here that cannot be explained by a “everyone will be OK” view expressed in varying levels of oratorical prowess.

Everyone will not be OK, just like they are not OK now.

226   Paul C    http://www.themidnightcry.com
November 22nd, 2008 at 2:54 pm

Abraham is not dead, but makes up that “great cloud of witnesses” that the writer of Hebrews speaks of.

Chad – read John 3:13. Or, on the day of Pentecost, Peter clearly states, “David is both dead and buried and his grave is with us until this day…” He is not in heaven.

I am glad you brought up Hebrews 11, because at the end it clearly states – “These having NOT received the fulfillment of what was promised… so that they (men and women of Hebrews 11, the cloud of witnesses) should not come to perfection apart from us (before we can join them).”

Also, who are the “dead in Christ” is everyone is up in heaven? Also, what happened to Stephen who “fell asleep” after being stoned?

Or in Daniel… “And many who sleep in the dust of the eath shall awake: some to everlasting life and some to everlasting shame and contempt.” And then the last verse of Daniel…

“You shall rest and stand in your allotted place at the end of days.”

227   Paul C    http://www.themidnightcry.com
November 22nd, 2008 at 2:55 pm

Everyone will not be OK, just like they are not OK now.

Amen. Rick, though we disagree on the concept of hell, I think we both clearly agree on the necessity of the gospel, faith and repentance.

228   Chad    http://www.chadholtz.wordpress.com
November 22nd, 2008 at 3:16 pm

Rick,
Why must you conclude from my stating that all things are reconciled to God (which they are, unless you want to deny scriptures clear witness to that) that there must therefore be some deficiency in God since there is still evil in the world?

I too have seen suffering. I don’t understand why you are bringing up metaphorical interpretations or assuming I don’t see or know what evil is. I have said here and elsewhere that evil is very real and must be named and WILL be judged. As to your question of why evil still exists that is something we can all find out for sure one day, I suppose. But regardless, your eschatology requires you to face the same question you ask here:

What kind of divine nature has the capacity to step in and save children from the horror of rape, starvation, AIDS, and a host of inflictions, and yet allows them to continue?

In your view of total reconciliation, what is God waiting for? More suffering? More rape? More disease? More war?

We can ask him that one day, I suspect.

Everyone will not be OK, just like they are not OK now.

So the life after this one is just a projection of this life? We should not expect the wolf to lie with the sheep in the world after because they do not here? We should not expect pain and suffering in the life after because we have it here?

I am sure that is not the hope of the gospel.

229   Chad    http://www.chadholtz.wordpress.com
November 22nd, 2008 at 3:19 pm

Paul C-
None of the passages you cited negate anything I or St. Paul said about the fact that departing from this life is to be present with Christ or Jesus telling the thief that “today” he will be with him in paradise.

230   Chad    http://www.chadholtz.wordpress.com
November 22nd, 2008 at 3:30 pm

I am glad you brought up Hebrews 11, because at the end it clearly states – “These having NOT received the fulfillment of what was promised… so that they (men and women of Hebrews 11, the cloud of witnesses) should not come to perfection apart from us (before we can join them).”

Paul, the “perfection” is our resurrection and transformed physicality. Apparently there is a, like Wright states, “life after life after death.” There is an intermediate stage where we await the resurrection – a “paradise” if you will.

Also, who are the “dead in Christ” is everyone is up in heaven? Also, what happened to Stephen who “fell asleep” after being stoned?

The dead in Christ are those who are “dead” to us and “In Christ” (to be absent from the body is to be with Christ). They are not dead IN Christ, for nothing that is in Christ could ever be dead.

Stephen’s falling asleep is him dying.

As for Daniel, that illustrates just how much a theology around resurrection and the life after developed from then to the days of Jesus, where there was still considerable debate going on.

231   Paul C    http://www.themidnightcry.com
November 22nd, 2008 at 3:56 pm

None of the passages you cited negate anything I or St. Paul said about the fact that departing from this life is to be present with Christ or Jesus telling the thief that “today” he will be with him in paradise.

Hmmm… where is Jesus right now? Isn’t He in heaven?

yet scripture is clear that when we diewe do not go to heaven, but wait for the resurrection.

Explain at least John 3:13 to me as well as Christ referencing “the last day” 3 times alone in John 6 (they are 3 other times in John he mentions this as well).

As for Daniel, that illustrates just how much a theology around resurrection and the life after developed from then to the days of Jesus, where there was still considerable debate going on.

This is where your theology breaks down. Remember, this was the ANGEL speaking to Daniel, not Daniel (or someone else) trying to loosely fit things together. What’s more, this is the understanding that permeates the entire OT and flows smoothly into the NT.

232   Chad    http://www.chadholtz.wordpress.com
November 22nd, 2008 at 4:24 pm

Paul,
All theology “breaks down.” All of it is an attempt to put words to things which are unspeakable. We mostly just stutter.

I agree with you on what is important in this matter and that I think scripture is most clear on: There will come a day when ALL will be raised (resurrected) bodily and be judged.
We can disagree on the specifics of how that looks or what we do until that day but the fact remains you, nor I, nor the man on the moon knows for certain. You can lob Daniel at me or your own interpretation of John 3:13 and I will simply say, fine, here is Paul saying “to depart from this body is to be with Christ” or Jesus saying “TODAY you will be with me in paradise” to the thief. You have not addressed either one of those passages, so I guess I can say, “Paul, this is where your theology breaks down.” So be it.

233   Paul C    http://www.themidnightcry.com
November 22nd, 2008 at 5:15 pm

You have not addressed either one of those passages

Chad, I’m not attempting to win a theological debate here, but I do think this aspect of what our hope is (the resurrection in scripture, somehow morphed into heaven over the centuries for many) is very important.

I am not lobbing scriptures around, but I think they do a sound job of establishing consistency.

You have not addressed Daniel, or Jesus in John3:13 or John 6 (plus other scriptures referencing “the last day”), or Mary’s understanding when Lazarus died…

In regards to “absent from the body, present with the Lord” I think this becomes clear in v 10 of the same chapter. When do we appear before the judgment seat of Christ? On judgment day, no? When is judgment day? At the time of the resurrection (SHEEP ANG GOATS – your favourite scripture). The time of the resurrection occurs on the day of the Lord – when Jesus finally returns!

It’s really an amazing thing to grasp. Again, not trying to win you over but would encourage you to look at this deeply. I appreciate your point of view as well, but because of the overwhelming amount of scriptures that support the other view, I don’t agree with it.

234   Scotty    http://scottysplace-scotty.blogspot.com/
November 22nd, 2008 at 5:25 pm

Paul C: yet scripture is clear that when we diewe do not go to heaven, but wait for the resurrection.

With that thought in mind, how does one explain Matthew 17? Albeit Elijah was taken directly to heaven but, Moses did indeed die and was buried.

Not trying to trap or anything, just tryin’ to understand…..

235   Chad    http://www.chadholtz.wordpress.com
November 22nd, 2008 at 5:29 pm

Paul,
I agree that there is the coming “day of the Lord” when judgment will be rendered. That does not mean everyone is “dead” until that day.
What does Jesus mean when he tells the thief that TODAY he will be with him in paradise?

I don’t think this is as important as you are making it out to be. Like I said, the main point is that there will be one day a general resurrection and a day of judgment. That resurrection will be of our bodies. We will be transformed.

But between that day and our death Paul says we are “in Christ” and Jesus promises that we will be in some sort of “paradise.” You can disagree with them on that point if you wish – I don’t think it really matters in the end.

236   Paul C    http://www.themidnightcry.com
November 22nd, 2008 at 5:39 pm

With that thought in mind, how does one explain Matthew 17? Albeit Elijah was taken directly to heaven but, Moses did indeed die and was buried.

A very legitimate question. I think the answer to this question is captured in John 3:13 (”No man has ascended into heaven…”) as well as Hebrews 11 – these all died in faith, having NOT received the promise – so that they should not come to perfection without us.

Matthew 17’s key is found in Matthew 16:28 : these select disciples got a glimpse into future events. Also, we know that Elijah does not come literally, but from Christ’s own lips, that John the Baptist represented Elijah (ie: same spirit, preaching repentance and turning to God).

Does that make some sense?

What does Jesus mean when he tells the thief that TODAY he will be with him in paradise?

The question to ask is: Did Jesus ascend to heaven the day He was crucified? The answer is no. Remember when he met with Mary in the garden 3 days later what He said:

“Do not cling to me, for I have not yet ascended to the Father…”

Even Christ didn’t ascend to heaven, so how could the thief.

237   Chad    http://www.chadholtz.wordpress.com
November 22nd, 2008 at 5:44 pm

Paul-
So what is the paradise the thief went to?

238   Paul C    http://www.themidnightcry.com
November 22nd, 2008 at 6:12 pm

Well, we clearly know it was not heaven (remember, Paul was caught up to paradise/third heaven, which is one and the same = the presence of God). Paradise is the presence of God, as you will agree, I think (especially in light of Paul’s reference in 2 Cor).

So, that leaves the fact that Jesus was speaking Aramaic, then translated to Greek, now to English by people who believed that when you die you go to heaven.

I think He was basically affirming that despite your sinful life, you are forgiven and will be with me in my Kingdom.

This would make sense, since it was the request of the thief: “Remember me when you come into your Kingdom” (the same as the marriage supper of the Lamb, when Christ does establish His throne on this earth).

239   Rick Frueh    http://judahslion.blogspot.com/
November 22nd, 2008 at 6:20 pm

Since the Scriptures are not clear about “Paradise”, we cannot be absolute about it, neither does it matter. What matters is “are their good and bad places in eternity, and if so, what are the paths to each of them.

If God has reconciled all things unto Himself, and if that means all sinners will spend eternity with Him, then sit back and enjoy the ride because the particulars of the ongoing narrative are incidental and unremarkable. But if all whoremongers etc. will have their part in the lake of fire, well that just might earn a closer examination as to the ramifications of such a statement.

240   Chad    http://www.chadholtz.wordpress.com
November 22nd, 2008 at 6:26 pm

Paradise is the presence of God, as you will agree, I think (especially in light of Paul’s reference in 2 Cor).

I would agree. And this cannot mean that one is dead, as I believe you have been arguing.

So, that leaves the fact that Jesus was speaking Aramaic, then translated to Greek, now to English by people who believed that when you die you go to heaven.

That is not exactly true. Neither the Greeks nor the Jews believed that when you die you go to heaven. Jesus is promising the thief something he would not have thought was going to be happening. Another example is Lazarus’ sister who did not think Lazarus was in heaven but dead and would not be raised until the Day of the Lord. So no, people did not believe generally that when you die you go to heaven.

The bottom line, Paul, is that unless you want to equate death with being in paradise (as Jesus promised) and also with being “in Christ” (as Paul describes it) than I am not really sure what you are trying to say. If you really want to say that paradise and being in Christ is the same as being dead until you wait for resurrection than I don’t know what to say, really. I disagree, but like I said, neither of us really know for sure.

241   Chad    http://www.chadholtz.wordpress.com
November 22nd, 2008 at 6:34 pm

If God has reconciled all things unto Himself, and if that means all sinners will spend eternity with Him, then sit back and enjoy the ride because the particulars of the ongoing narrative are incidental and unremarkable. But if all whoremongers etc. will have their part in the lake of fire, well that just might earn a closer examination as to the ramifications of such a statement.

Rick, this is utterly false, my friend.

Do you love and honor your wife out of fear of retribution and wrath or out of something else?
I do not deny that there are universalists that would say “eat drink and be merry” for nothing matters. But that is not the Christian response to God’s abundant gracious act of salvation through Christ. Rather, sin and holiness are taken very seriously – even more so I would say than those who make morality a matter of heaven and hell.

It is ridiculous, I think, to assert that one would not live a live unto God unless they knew that to not do so would send him or her to hell or without the knowledge that at least they aren’t like “them.” I would argue that such an attitude or posture says more about our falleness and desire to control grace than it does about God’s actions towards creation.

242   Chad    http://www.chadholtz.wordpress.com
November 22nd, 2008 at 6:46 pm

It is out of a place of sin that I do not want everyone to be saved. There are groups of people and certainly individuals (I can name them!) who I do not want to worship the one true God with for all eternity. Like being captain of the dodge ball team there are certain people I just do not want to pick.

This is why Paul calls grace and the cross so scandalous. What God did in Christ subverts and upsets every sense of judgment I would make as creature. God said yes to the world in Jesus. I am still saying “no.” There are times when I say to God “Not that one, Lord. Surely not him. Surely, God, there must be some conditions upon your grace, right?” And then I am reminded that this is the God who doesn’t stop searching for the lost coin or the lost sheep until all are found. This is the God who did say he would reconcile ALL things back to himself. He is a relentless God of love. He teaches me, slowly but surely, that I too can love the unloveable.

243   Chris L    http://www.fishingtheabyss.com/
November 22nd, 2008 at 7:41 pm

Only a few random thoughts – I’ve been out for the past 150+ comments, so there’s no way to completely catch up…

Well, we clearly know it was not heaven (remember, Paul was caught up to paradise/third heaven, which is one and the same = the presence of God). Paradise is the presence of God, as you will agree, I think (especially in light of Paul’s reference in 2 Cor).

Paul,

The “third heaven”, as understood in the first century, was the realm of spirits – not the presence of God. The “first heaven” is the realm of the dead – Sheol. The “second heaven” is the realm of the air (where humans live) above the earth (which is why Satan was referred to as the “prince of the air”), and the “third heaven” in their cosmology was where the angels and demons and other spiritual beings dwealt….

It is out of a place of sin that I do not want everyone to be saved. There are groups of people and certainly individuals (I can name them!) who I do not want to worship the one true God with for all eternity. Like being captain of the dodge ball team there are certain people I just do not want to pick.

This is why Paul calls grace and the cross so scandalous.

Chad,

There is no scriptural basis to suggest that those who are apart from Christ in life will be with him in heaven for eternity. While I understand your position to be one that hopes that God has some way for them, it is a hope unfounded on what we’ve been told by God. To assume that Paul’s comments about reconciliation equate to salvation is more than a stretch. The more I read your position, the more it just seems like the flip-side of Calvinism, where both render evangelism and earthly acceptance of Christ a meaningless exercise.

_______

Re: Hell

As I understand Jesus’ teaching and the cosmology he espoused regarding this – there is an urgency in accepting the invitation of the bridegroom while dwelling here in in this life. All too many of his parables and teachings directly imply this – the parable of the bridesmaids, the rich man and Lazarus, the Great Banquet, the Sheep and the Goats, etc. all point to both an urgency and a permanence.

Whether hell (gehenna) is literal, physical and eternal punishment or temporary punishment followed by annihilation (or something similar if we dwell with God apart from time – which makes language around “eternal” meaningless, since time is no longer a single, one-way dimension) just doesn’t seem all that important to me – regardless, it is an eternal separation from God, AND it is something that a rather large number of people seem to be destined for if they choose to reject the gift given by Christ.

There is a danger, I think, of taking your point to an extreme. That is, we become paralyzed and do nothing for our neighbor because we cannot (for various reasons- lack of opportunity, ignorance, fear, whatever) articulate in words the reason we do what we do.

There is a danger of taking EITHER point to an extreme.

Taking all of Jesus’ teaching into account, sharing his message without the accompanying works of compassion is loveless, and sharing works without any hint of the gospel is meaningless. Simply sending a check to an aid organization that does nothing to spread the gospel is “good”, but it does nothing to glorify God.

If I do something for my physical neighbor, I don’t need to accompany that with a direct sharing of the gospel message (particularly if I’m not a very good speaker) – he already knows, from observation, that my family is Christian, and I can be pretty sure that he’s already watching me to see how I behave…

244   Rick Frueh    http://judahslion.blogspot.com/
November 22nd, 2008 at 8:41 pm

Hell on earth =

Notre Dame losing to Syracuse at home. Surely the coming of the Lord is nigh…

245   Chad    http://www.chadholtz.wordpress.com
November 22nd, 2008 at 9:21 pm

There is no scriptural basis to suggest that those who are apart from Christ in life will be with him in heaven for eternity. While I understand your position to be one that hopes that God has some way for them, it is a hope unfounded on what we’ve been told by God.

Chris, actually the hope that I have is a hope based entirely on the God I find revealed to us throughout all of scripture and particularly in Jesus Christ. It is a hope modeled after none other than God Himself who desires that none should perish. Throughout the pages of Scripture there weaves a plan of redemption that is remarkable in its scope and depth. While it is true that there is not some proof-text verse one can point to that holds the smoking gun (just like there is no one verse that proves God is Triune) it is nonetheless there.

The Good News of the Gospel is that we are saved. When Peter asks us to be able to give an account for the hope that lies within us I hear in that a call to proclaim that in Jesus Christ something so radical, so scandalous, so huge, so loving was done – and finished. In the same way that through one man we were all damned (Adam) it is through one man that all are saved. And it is this second Adam that promised if he be lifted up he would draw ALL men to himself.

So I disagree that the hope I have is contrived or has no scriptural support, as you claim. I would also go as far as to say that this is a hope every Christian should pray for and hold fast to. Rather than saying we suspect there is a large segment of our society heading to hell we should be believing against such a fate for anyone, perhaps even praying as Paul did that we be allowed to stand in their place.

peace.

246   Chad    http://www.chadholtz.wordpress.com
November 22nd, 2008 at 9:24 pm

There is a story told of Karl Barth’s first visit to America. There was much talk about this Swiss pastor/theologian and none of his works at this time had been translated from German to English, so what was known of him was scarce – but enough to get people riled.
When Barth arrived in the States one reporter asked him, “Mr. Barth, do you believe in the Devil?”
Barth replied in a thunderous voice, “NO! I believe AGAINST the Devil!”

247   Rick Frueh    http://judahslion.blogspot.com/
November 22nd, 2008 at 9:27 pm

“perhaps even praying as Paul did that we be allowed to stand in their place. ”

Why stand in their place if all of us are in the same place…hopefully? Chad, your “hope” is universalism, the only difference is you will not say you actually believe it, just that you hope it is true based upon your analysis of God’s character.

It is universalism light. :cool:

248   Rick Frueh    http://judahslion.blogspot.com/
November 22nd, 2008 at 9:28 pm

Who cares about Karl Barth? What sayeth thou?

249   Chad    http://www.chadholtz.wordpress.com
November 22nd, 2008 at 9:37 pm

Rick,
To stand in one’s place at judgment is not to concede that on the other side of that judgment is an eternity in hell or that God washes his hands of you. It is to be willing to take the sharp end of God’s consuming holiness upon oneself so that another might be spared that. But even more, it is an act of dying to self to say you would be willing to switch places with a person who does not know the richness of life with God. To be estranged from God is to be dehumanized. Are we willing to switch lives with these people that they might experience the abundant life Jesus shows us we can have in him?

Any Christian universalism would be considered “light” if your understanding of universalism is “anything goes” and all paths lead to heaven. So I don’t take that as the slight you meant it to be. Perhaps you are starting to understand afterall.

Who cares about Karl Barth? What sayeth thou?

Oh, right. Rick, the guy who is too humble to think any other saints have anything to offer him.
:)

250   Rick Frueh    http://judahslion.blogspot.com/
November 22nd, 2008 at 9:44 pm

Chad – I never said no one has anything to offer me, I just know that we can exchange quotes that substantiate opposite views all night long. They are meaningless when we are interpreting Scripture and presenting what we believe.

I do believe we believe, or hope, differently as well as interpret the nature of God.

Peace (All we are saying, is give peace a chance)

251   Chad    http://www.chadholtz.wordpress.com
November 22nd, 2008 at 9:51 pm

They are meaningless when we are interpreting Scripture and presenting what we believe.

Hmmm. Rick, how is a quote from Barth (or anyone) that I like and think has good merit “meaningless” while my own musings and ramblings (interpretations) are not? If you are to be consistent with that logic than my interpretations and ponderings over scripture which you read here and respond to are every bit as meaningless and worthless as everyone you think is pointless to allow into the conversation. Right?

I do not quote Barth or anyone else so that I can say, “See! He believed this so it must be true!”

252   Paul C    http://www.themidnightcry.com
November 22nd, 2008 at 10:01 pm

The “third heaven”, as understood in the first century, was the realm of spirits – not the presence of God.

Chris, this is not correct. When Paul said he was caught up to Third Heaven AND to the throne of God – he beheld things “unlawful to be uttered” they were so breathtaking.

He wasn’t caught up into a spiritual realm of spirits (first heaven) but the very presence of God – 3rd heaven.

253   Rick Frueh    http://judahslion.blogspot.com/
November 22nd, 2008 at 10:06 pm

Unless the person can be active in the conversation, and his views can be integrated with the issue as we are discussing, those quotes are unproductive. If you don’t quote Barth as a point of truth, what is the reason for his quote.

I don’t mean to belabor the point, you know how I feel about dragging others into an exchange as evidentiary on some level. I could quote Charles Finney on hell and to what point? I am not attempting to be arrogant, I can do much better than that. I am just being practical and focused.

BTW – if you haven’t already guessed, I am profoundly unimpressed with Karl Barth and his beliefs.

254   Chris L    http://www.fishingtheabyss.com/
November 22nd, 2008 at 11:56 pm

When Paul said he was caught up to Third Heaven AND to the throne of God – he beheld things “unlawful to be uttered” they were so breathtaking.

Paul

There is all sorts of first century documentation of their cosmology.

In it, there are three spheres – beneath the earth (the “first heaven” – Sheol/Hades/Death), on the earth (the “second heaven” – the kingdom of the air, where we reside), and the ‘heavens’ – on which the stars are located on the outer sphere – this is the “third heaven” to which Paul was taken – where he was around the throne with the angels & spirits. God, though, dwells “beyond the veil” (as symbolized in the Temple, where the veil was dark purple and covered with the constellations, representing the stars on the sphere of the heavens)…

255   Paul C    http://www.themidnightcry.com
November 23rd, 2008 at 12:22 am

Chris, I don’t dispute your outline of the three different heavens. What I am saying simply is that Paul was caught up to third heaven, which we all agree on, and defined it as Paradise. He was before the throne of God.

Chad was referencing the thief on the cross being promised Paradise (ie: before the throne of God). However, even Jesus did not go to Paradise right away, but rather Sheol.

If Jesus never went to paradise then neither did the thief, right? We know paradise is nothing less than third heaven, the throne of God.

256   Chris L    http://www.fishingtheabyss.com/
November 23rd, 2008 at 1:51 am

Chad was referencing the thief on the cross being promised Paradise (ie: before the throne of God). However, even Jesus did not go to Paradise right away, but rather Sheol.

This assumes that the ancient cosmology (which was independent of Jewish thought) is accurate (which we know, at least as it pertains to the non-heliocentricity, the spheres, and stars, that it is not), rather than just borrowed by Jesus and Paul to explain things in the “scientific” understanding of the day.

I think to base surity of the inner-workings of the spirit world, based on tangential analysis is dangerous. For all we know, Sheol and Paradise may both operate on the same plane of existence (in reality), though they might be explained as two different spheres (in using ancient near-east metaphors). Apart from acknowledging their existence (paradise, heaven, hell, sheol) as some sort of state of existence and/or place, I’m not so sure that fixation on how they work is all that important…

257   Chad    http://www.chadholtz.wordpress.com
November 23rd, 2008 at 8:42 am

BTW – if you haven’t already guessed, I am profoundly unimpressed with Karl Barth and his beliefs.

And I am profoundly impressed.

Perhaps if I quoted someone you like you wouldn’t be so dismissive.

258   Rick Frueh    http://judahslion.blogspot.com/
November 23rd, 2008 at 8:53 am

“Perhaps if I quoted someone you like you wouldn’t be so dismissive.”

You mean…like me? I usually am most unimpressed with me, but at least I can grow in my beliefs because I am still alive. Others make me think, but they are no more authoritative than am I.

In all honesty, I run to hear missionaries speak, and I would consider the thoughts of an unpublished, unknown, and unappreciated missionary to Darfur as significantly more “listen worthy” than most den dwelling
“theologians” – like me.

259   Chad    http://www.chadholtz.wordpress.com
November 23rd, 2008 at 8:55 am

Unless the person can be active in the conversation, and his views can be integrated with the issue as we are discussing, those quotes are unproductive.

Rick, this is where I find you the most peculiar. Do you really think that any of our views are detached from any context or history or that they arise out of a vacuum of complete and total objectivity?
I think it is the height of intellectual arrogance for us to sit here pondering and discussing the deepest and most important matters of life and assume we are the sole owners of our theological reflection and our thoughts are novel. Sorry, but they aren’t.
If I quote other great thinkers from past or present it is not to prove that I am right and you are wrong but to lodge this conversation in something bigger than myself and show that there is precedent for this sort of reflection. Frankly, I am suspicious of anyone who distrusts everyone else or who won’t or can’t trace their theological moorings to something beyond just the carnival in their own head.

260   Rick Frueh    http://judahslion.blogspot.com/
November 23rd, 2008 at 9:21 am

“the carnival in their own head.”

Than why does including the carnivals in other’s heads make our perspectives any more substantive? I read extensively, but I always have an intellectual detachment so as not to be influenced by another man’s “carnival”.

To your other point, I can directly probe your statements, I can challenge your conclusions, I can ask for further amplification, and I can ask you to respond to my contentions. Quotes from dead or unengaged others are monolithic statements that most times do not fit easily in the issue at hand. We can draw from others, but I do not favor them interjecting posthumously. It is entirely possible that the author might disagree with how we use their quotes in a given situation and how we represented their position by a selective use of their words.

261   Chad    http://www.chadholtz.wordpress.com
November 23rd, 2008 at 9:39 am

Than why does including the carnivals in other’s heads make our perspectives any more substantive

?

Because as Christians we are a people of communion. We do not (or should not) think of ourselves as islands unto ourselves. Theology is not an isolated project but a communal one. Even scripture itself is a communal affair. Those saints who have gone on before us have reflected deeply upon our faith and we are arrogant to presume we do not stand on their shoulders. Their thoughts and prayers have had the distinct advantage of being discussed and debated throughout time and ought to be heeded. I am convinced that the Holy Spirit is ACTIVELY engaged in the world and with the church in particular, leading us into truth. The voices of the past help guide us along in that they too have relied on the same Spirit that leads us today.

To your other point, I can directly probe your statements, I can challenge your conclusions, I can ask for further amplification, and I can ask you to respond to my contentions.

Yep, you can. And you should know that none of what I say is just stuff I dreamed up. If you had not noticed everything I have been discussing here can in large part be attributed to Barth and to discussions I have had in theology class as taught by Dr. J. Kameron Cater as well as Bishop William Willimon and his book Who Will Be Saved? among others (to include Origen, Wesley and even Calvin).

I might ask you the same question: If you do not care about what someone who is dead has to say about something, and I and every theologian is more or less articulating the thoughts of dead people than why do you listen and respond to mine or anyone else’s ramblings? Why blog? All of this stuff comes from somewhere – and like I said, I hope it is not just something dreamed up in the carnival of our own heads but has been ironed out in the arena of community over a period of time.

262   Rick Frueh    http://judahslion.blogspot.com/
November 23rd, 2008 at 9:47 am

“and I and every theologian is more or less articulating the thoughts of dead people”

No, I am not. I enjoy perspectives, but I interpret the Scriptures for myself, to the consternation of some.

“why do you listen and respond to mine or anyone else’s ramblings? Why blog? ”

The ministry of correction. :cool:

263   Chris L    http://www.fishingtheabyss.com/
November 23rd, 2008 at 10:08 am

Chris, actually the hope that I have is a hope based entirely on the God I find revealed to us throughout all of scripture and particularly in Jesus Christ. It is a hope modeled after none other than God Himself who desires that none should perish. Throughout the pages of Scripture there weaves a plan of redemption that is remarkable in its scope and depth. While it is true that there is not some proof-text verse one can point to that holds the smoking gun (just like there is no one verse that proves God is Triune) it is nonetheless there.

I’m sorry, Chad, but I’m just going to refuse to believe that – yet, once again – secular humanism has once again magically brought us to where God meant us to be, despite what is actually recorded in Scripture. I certainly wish I could live in your world, where I can pretty much make up whatever I wish Scripture said and then wrap it up in “that’s what I find God to be revealed in scripture”. That way, I need not be confronted with the places where the God of the Bible and secular humanist society differ.

God clearly condemns homosexual practice in Scripture. That’s doesn’t square with what society wishes the church believed. I’ll just sprinkle some fairy dust, and say “the God I find to be revealed in Scripture approves of all monogamous, consensual, ‘loving’ relationships”, I’m OK and you’re OK, and those mean old churches that believe Scripture are just anti-Kingdom.

God clearly states exclusivity of Christ, and Jesus clearly teaches urgency and a permanency in eternal duality of destination, and John had a vision in which some were cast into an eternal lake of fire (where they were either annihilated or eternally, consciously punished – which is up for debate) but hey, I’ll just ride in on my unicorn and say (despite admission that I’ve left Scripture from the get-go) “the God I find revealed in Scripture saved everyone, and (in effect) every road leads to heaven (eventually), and that is True HopeTM.”

Give me a Godless, liberal cause and I’ll just say “the God I find revealed in Scripture…” and it will all be better, because I’ve been able to mold God to fit the reality I wish existed, and the church won’t ever have to conflict with society (because “countercultural” to the God I find revealed in Scripture is telling Christians to be “counter to the culture of the church”, not truly countercultural.

Thanks, but no thanks.

Do we wish that God would destroy those who refuse Him? I would hope not, but it is with sadness that He has revealed this – literally in His Word – and in His reluctance to end it all yet – “The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness. He is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance.”

I am rather consistent in my belief that God revealed to his people from the time of Adam in Genesis to the vision of John in Revelation, what they need to know of His works, of His love, and of His expectations of them. I am consistent in my criticism of the pockets of Protestantism who have made up whole-cloth ’systems’ about God in the past 400-500 years (be they Calvinism, Premillenial Dispensationalism, etc.), in stark denial of what the church understood at the time of the apostles. In the same way, I am consistently against creating new belief ’systems’ out of whole cloth (via mechanics like “the God revealed to me in Scripture (in absence of any literal Scriptural support)…”) to replace the old systems. It’s like trading a hangman’s noose for loaded revolver – pick your poison, but swallow it quickly.

To quote/paraphrase a number of ancient Rabbinical sources (also noted by Rob Bell in Velvet Elvis) “If it’s true, it’s not new; and if it’s new, it’s not true”. What you’re advocating much of the time (re: universalism, homosexual practice, egalatarianism, the value of life, etc.) is pretty much exactly the opposite of what was taught by Jesus’ apostles to the church 2,000 years ago (keeping cultural context in mind), and I’m not going to buy your tacit implication that “the God revealed in Scripture” got it wrong for 2000 years of church history until we ‘enlightened’ folk of the 21st century arrived on the scene.

Sorry, I’m open minded, but not so much so that my brains leak out onto the floor…

264   Rick Frueh    http://judahslion.blogspot.com/
November 23rd, 2008 at 10:16 am

How can anyone read the entirety of Scripture with a literal sense and not see the judicial facet of God’s character? Why would God create man and endure this excruciating narrative only to have all be saved and with Him eternally? Why not, in accordance with this “God’s love eradicates His justice” view, just create every man with a celestial body and without the earthly history?

God sometimes acts “mean”, and sometimes murders entire cities. God kills a man who tries to keep the ark from falling, God kills all the firstborn in Egypt, and on and on we go. It is Pollyannish to view God without the Scriptural revelation of all the aspects of His nature. It diminishes the seriousness of sin and its consequences, which diminishes redemption.

265   Paul C    http://www.themidnightcry.com
November 23rd, 2008 at 10:26 am

Chad: in a sentence, it seems you have subscribed to utter and complete false doctrine in this area. Embracing your view means a wholehearted rejection of hundreds of other scriptures.

From a human standpoint (ie: what man wants) your doctrine is the best and most appealing, most comfortable and non-confrontational. But it is false.

266   Paul C    http://www.themidnightcry.com
November 23rd, 2008 at 10:36 am

Paul C: Chad was referencing the thief on the cross being promised Paradise (ie: before the throne of God). However, even Jesus did not go to Paradise right away, but rather Sheol.

Chris L: This assumes that the ancient cosmology (which was independent of Jewish thought) is accurate (which we know, at least as it pertains to the non-heliocentricity, the spheres, and stars, that it is not), rather than just borrowed by Jesus and Paul to explain things in the “scientific” understanding of the day.

No Chris, it assumes an honest review of scripture…

If Christ didn’t go to Paradise (heaven/throne of God) THEN

neither did the thief go the Paradise (heaven/throne of God)

NEITHER

do we go to Paradise (heaven/throne of God) when we die.

This was understood by Jews in the times of Christ. The Saduccees, while disagreeing with the teaching of the resurrection, at least understood the prevailing tenets (and proceeded to trap Christ in a theological debate). Again, when Lazarus died, Mary understood the resurrection at the last day.

Dead = dead UNTIL the time of the resurrection AT THE LAST DAY….

267   Rick Frueh    http://judahslion.blogspot.com/
November 23rd, 2008 at 11:59 am

The paradise issue is a non-essential topic that can sharpen our perseption skills but isn’t all that important. However, the “get out of jail” after death issue for all sinners is extremely important and cuts at the heart of the nature of redemption and the meaning of the cross.

And just because Chad issues the “I hope” statement instead of “I believe” statement is not much comfort. I am sure that the next generation of “I hopes” will have morphed into “I believe and teach”. Just the fact that those who hope cannot bring themselves to be dogmatic speaks to their inability to leap the obstacles of clear Biblical teachings.

I hope God will stop all abortions because of the character of His nature I see in Scripture, however He hasn’t seen fit to do so. That must mean I have not assessed His character in all its Scriptural fullness, and I have sculpted Him in the image of my own compassion based upon my infinitely limited understanding of everything.

To hope that revealed truth will someday be false is not hope, it is denial, and is usually accompanied by behavior, however unintended, that underminds the truth that is denied hoped against.

268   Chris L    http://www.fishingtheabyss.com/
November 23rd, 2008 at 2:33 pm

Paul,

My apologies, I cannot accept your view, as it would make Jesus’ comment to the thief a blatant lie. To Rick’s point, though, I’m not sure how fruitful it is to try and figure out the mechanical workings of eternity.

269   Phil Miller    http://pmwords.blogspot.com
November 23rd, 2008 at 3:21 pm

Paul,
I think the soul sleep view isn’t a huge deal, although I think that to be die is to be with Christ in some way that we are aware. I just think there are too many Biblical references to the dead having some sort of consciousness to just ignore them. It wasn’t uncommon for death to be referred to as sleep, but that was just an idiom much in the way we say someone has “passed on”.

If you look at other Jewish literature from the second temple era in addition to the OT and NT, you get a pretty good idea of what Jews in Jesus’ day thought about life, death, and the resurrection. They did indeed believe in a bodily resurrection, but they also believed that the righteous were with God in the interim. That’s why the Christians who were praying for Peter in Acts thought that they were seeing “his angel” when Peter appeared at the door. That was a phrase that was used to describe someone’s state in the time period between their death and the expected resurrection.

270   Chad    http://www.chadholtz.wordpress.com
November 23rd, 2008 at 5:57 pm

Chris L and Rick-

That’s cool. What I am speaking about is true regardless of whether you believe it or not :)

Chris L – you are aware, I hope, that what I am saying as it relates to universalism is nothing different from what Rob Bell teaches.

Perhaps on a different venue I will lay out the overwhelming scriptural support that points to a God who has saved all. It is interesting to me to hear people argue against that.

peace.

271   Rick Frueh    http://judahslion.blogspot.com/
November 23rd, 2008 at 7:27 pm

Oh how we have messed it up for a second time, parlaying the original sin. Through our brother Adam we have turned perfection into a fallen wasteland filled with God’s enemies. And then comes the Incarnate Theos, masquerading as one of us, but pursuing His mission for such a time as this. And in an enigmatic act of profound mystery, Christ completes the perfect offer of eternal redemption for the entire world, including those who died in faith before Bethlehem brought Him forth.

And now, as if we are not satisfied with Adam’s mischief, we have taken the simplicity of the gospel offer and changed, shaded, parsed, and added to this divine perfection once more. A thousand different gospels, a thousand different paths, a thousand different faiths, and a thousand different eternal outcomes have sprung forth from what was presented as one.

Regardless of your eschatalogical persuasion, you must see how the unravelling is gaining energy and how the gospel continues to be clothed in earthly works and stripped of the glory of eternity that once was its apostolic herald.

And when you present the Scriptural record you may be accused of arguing against someone’s “hope”. This is no light discussion about complementarianism, or eschatology, or methodology, or even the perfection of Scripture. This discussion of the width of salvation and the expanse of redemption’s recipients, is the foundation of our faith.

If heaven will welcome unbelieving sinners, and in some theologies ALL sinners, then the Scriptures are surely the works of men and contain many core innaccuracies that have unnecessarily frightened all of us and made spiritual heroes of false teachers in ecclesiastical history.

If all sinners will be found with God in eternity, then Luther, Calvin, Whitefield, Moody, Edwards, Zwingli, the Moravians, and hundreds of thousands of missionaries have been liars who did not speak for God and who wrested God’s Word at the deepest levels. Who would scare their own child with a lie? Who would tangle eternal damnation in front of someone untruthfully?

If all will be reconciled then the Scriptures are replete with fearful images meant to warn and scare sinners, when in fact, they were nothing more than fictional tales told around a campfire of trembling sinners who had nothing to fear. Why use fire and sulfur and worms and thirst and many terrible images of torture? How unkind, how manipulative, how untrue, and how unlike the divine nature that “cannot lie”.

Unless…unless…it is all absolutely…true…

272   Chris L    http://www.fishingtheabyss.com/
November 23rd, 2008 at 8:44 pm

you are aware, I hope, that what I am saying as it relates to universalism is nothing different from what Rob Bell teaches.

Actually, you’ve taken it beyond what Bell has taught. Saying that “hell is full of forgiven people” is making the distinction between forgiveness and grace – all were forgiven, but not all will escape the consequences of sin. [He's made that rather clear in numerous follow-up teachings at Mars Hill (which I've listened to for the past 4-5 years).]

For instance, if I were to intentionally shoot you in the foot, even if you forgave me, I do not escape the consequences of being sentenced for assault and reckless endangerment. In the same way, all of our sins are forgiven by Jesus’ sacrifice, but only if we accept his grace do we escape the consequences of sin. NOWHERE does Bell spout the universalist view you claim.

273   Chris L    http://www.fishingtheabyss.com/
November 23rd, 2008 at 8:52 pm

Agreed, Rick – Quoting Col 1:15-22 w/o noting v. 23, you may end up where Chad has – incomplete in your teaching:

But now he has reconciled you by Christ’s physical body through death to present you holy in his sight, without blemish and free from accusation— if you continue in your faith, established and firm, not moved from the hope held out in the gospel. This is the gospel that you heard and that has been proclaimed to every creature under heaven, and of which I, Paul, have become a servant.

Much in the same way that if you only prooftext James, you end up with a social gospel minus the call for personal holiness…

Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world.

274   Paul C    http://www.themidnightcry.com
November 23rd, 2008 at 10:37 pm

My apologies, I cannot accept your view, as it would make Jesus’ comment to the thief a blatant lie.

Not trying to make a big deal out of this, but by stating this you are indirectly saying the Lord lied to Mary on resurrection morning (”Don’t touch me, because I haven’t yet ascended to my Father and your Father…”).

I believe the 2 scriptures (thief and statement to Mary) can be reconciled by taking an honest view of scripture.

We can’t fairly chastize Chad for bastardizing the message of the gospel and wresting scripture while in the same thread disannul what might be true biblically, though it challenges our preconceived notions, and cast aside.

275   Phil Miller    http://pmwords.blogspot.com
November 23rd, 2008 at 11:51 pm

Not trying to make a big deal out of this, but by stating this you are indirectly saying the Lord lied to Mary on resurrection morning (”Don’t touch me, because I haven’t yet ascended to my Father and your Father…”).

Well, Jesus didn’t “ascend” when He was killed. His spirit went into Sheol, the dwelling of the dead. Second temple Judaism didn’t necessarily make a distinction between where the righteous spirits went and everyone else. There was some thought that the wicked faced some sort of judgment while in Sheol, but there wasn’t an idea the hell was where the wicked went and Satan was somehow in charge of hell.

So when Peter says that Jesus “preached to the spirits in prison”, it is likely he is thinking of spirits of the faithful in Sheol who had died prior to having knowledge of the Messiah. So paradise, Sheol, and Abraham’s Bosom are all roughly the same thing. It’s similar to the vague way in which people speak of heaven today, really.

276   Chris L    http://www.fishingtheabyss.com/
November 24th, 2008 at 12:28 am

Not trying to make a big deal out of this, but by stating this you are indirectly saying the Lord lied to Mary on resurrection morning (”Don’t touch me, because I haven’t yet ascended to my Father and your Father…”).

I’d also note again, using first century cosmology, Jesus could go to the “third heaven” (which is where the angels and stars dwell) without “ascending to the Father” because God dwells beyond the veil (see again the symbology of the Holy of Holies)…

277   Chad    http://www.chadholtz.wordpress.com
November 24th, 2008 at 7:19 am

In the same way, all of our sins are forgiven by Jesus’ sacrifice, but only if we accept his grace do we escape the consequences of sin. NOWHERE does Bell spout the universalist view you claim.

Chris, a couple points –

1- I agree we do not escape the consequences of sin without accepting grace. Where did I say otherwise?

2 – What, exactly, is the “universalist view” you say I am spouting? I am curious because you said you have not read all the posts here. Honestly, I have a feeling you are making the same mistake PB so often makes.

3 – Please show me where I have stated that I believe hell does not exist or is an impossibility.

4 – Should you ever get the chance, ask Rob Bell these two questions:
(1) Based on what you know about God revealed in Jesus, do you have a hope that hell does not exist?
(2) Do you know that hell is an eternal place where a “rather large number of people seem to be destined for?” (your words, post 243).

5- Where did I ever say “all roads lead to heaven?” I have rather said, explicitly, the opposite. Again, I am going to attribute your misunderstading of my view to your not reading the last many posts, but still, you should know better – I expect this sort of thing from the ADM’s, not you. Maybe this is some sort of post-election hangover.

278   Chad    http://www.chadholtz.wordpress.com
November 24th, 2008 at 7:29 am

Chris or Rick-

There is a simple question that gets to the heart of this issue and my hunch is our answers would not be too different. It is this:

If the woman in the article I linked to that started this whole thing, the woman in Africa drinking nasty water to survive, dies without ever hearing the name of Jesus Christ proclaimed or ever confessing the name of Jesus in this life time does she spend an eternity in hell?

279   Chad    http://www.chadholtz.wordpress.com
November 24th, 2008 at 7:44 am

We can’t fairly chastize Chad for bastardizing the message of the gospel

Ha! This is my favority line of this thread! Thanks, Paul C! I am glad you can feel justified for being so right. Good for you!

280   Rick Frueh    http://judahslion.blogspot.com/
November 24th, 2008 at 7:53 am

“If the woman in the article I linked to that started this whole thing, the woman in Africa drinking nasty water to survive, dies without ever hearing the name of Jesus Christ proclaimed or ever confessing the name of Jesus in this life time does she spend an eternity in hell?”

Chad – Let me illustrate. A mass murderer heads towrd a cliff. Someone warns him but he ignores and rejects their warning and walks over the cliff to his death. Then a toddler walks toward the same cliff, no one warns or sees him and he walks off the cliff to his death.

The law of gravity is no respector of persons. The law of sin and death is also no respector of persons, and there is no unrighteousness in God. Your question reveals a human understanding of the eternal consequences of sin, and it also seems to indicate that God would be unjust if that woman went to hell.

The ONLY arbitor we have is God’s Word. Romans 10 clearly states that only believers can be saved, and only those who HEAR can believe. I understand your compassion, but it must bow to God’s Word.

281   Rick Frueh    http://judahslion.blogspot.com/
November 24th, 2008 at 8:19 am

I wish God would have intervened in the law of sin and death and my mother would not have died at age 44. You get the picture. What promise do we have that God will override the consequences of sin after death without the sacrifice He has provided?

There isn’t.

282   Chad    http://www.chadholtz.wordpress.com
November 24th, 2008 at 8:41 am

Ok, so Rick believes the woman will spend eternity in hell.

Chris?

283   Chad    http://www.chadholtz.wordpress.com
November 24th, 2008 at 8:43 am

Oh, and Rick, I believe your view takes the “Good” out of “News” and makes the cross and resurrection a mere formality to get to what is really important – YOU and YOUR belief.

284   Chad    http://www.chadholtz.wordpress.com
November 24th, 2008 at 8:44 am

What promise do we have that God will override the consequences of sin after death without the sacrifice He has provided?

Rick! THAT IS THE ENTIRE POINT!

285   Chad    http://www.chadholtz.wordpress.com
November 24th, 2008 at 8:44 am

What promise do we have that God will override the consequences of sin after death without the sacrifice He has provided?

Rick! THAT IS THE ENTIRE POINT!

286   Chad    http://www.chadholtz.wordpress.com
November 24th, 2008 at 8:50 am

oops – hit enter by accident….twice :)
Rick, that is the entire point – the point is that the sacrifice HAS been provided! NO ONE will be saved through any other means other than Jesus Christ, the Son of God! I am speaking of an ontological reality, Rick – Christ Jesus died for the SINS OF THE WHOLE WORLD. You either believe this or you do not. In not believing it you make your salvation a matter of works – faith becomes a WORK that saves you in God’s eyes. That is not the gospel. From God’s perspective YOU ARE SAVED. Faith is that which allows you to LIVE INTO the reality that is ALREADY true about you.

287   Rick Frueh    http://judahslion.blogspot.com/
November 24th, 2008 at 8:52 am

You then suggest that God will anoint that sacrifice on sinners who haven’t believed. You are welcome to your opinion, however at that point you must part ways with the New Testament. And you insinuate that since I believe the woman dies unsaved that I adhere to “mean theology”.

I think the definition of “mean” is when a couple of kids tease a prophet and bears kill them. Very mean. :cool:

288   Rick Frueh    http://judahslion.blogspot.com/
November 24th, 2008 at 8:57 am

Chad – you completely make faith irrelevant when the Scriptures make it core. He that believes will be saved, he that believes not will be condemned. Jesus died for the sins of the world, however that provision is worthless unless by faith we are grafted in to Christ.

Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and you shall be saved, not you will realize you were already saved. Your view is unscriptural and dangerous as well.

289   Chad    http://www.chadholtz.wordpress.com
November 24th, 2008 at 9:22 am

You then suggest that God will anoint that sacrifice on sinners who haven’t believed.

Yep. While we were weak, while we were sinners, while we were even enemies to God, Christ died for us, thus proving his love for us.

It’s called Good News, Rick. It’s the heart of the gospel. Grace – free gift. Not even your belief can earn it.

Chad – you completely make faith irrelevant when the Scriptures make it core.

Wrong. Faith is VITAL in that it appropriates for ME (and us) the reality that is already true about me (and us). Again, Rick, part of your problem in understanding this is you have too small a view of salvation. You say you do not make it all about going to heaven vs. hell but in reality that is all you are concieving at this point. Your missing the fact that salvation is not about destination as much as it is about vocation. It is about becoming who God desires us to become and to live in harmony, in relationship with him and each other. That is salvation. I agree with you that without faith this cannot occur.

Jesus died for the sins of the world, however that provision is worthless unless by faith we are grafted in to Christ.

This is where we disagree the most, Rick. I don’t view the Atonment as “provisional.” There is NOTHING I can do that grafts me into the body of Christ – NOTHING! Not even faith, Rick. Even faith is a gift, Rick. Not even my beliefs (as whacked as they are and as whacked and different as ALL of us are) – they DO NOT SAVE ME in the eternal sense or change the reality of who I am or who you are in what Jesus Christ did on Calvary.

Your view of the atonemen it too small. You are substituting outward works with inward works as a means to be saved. It’s either all grace or its no grace – or grace contingent upon your works. Which is it?

Karl Barth, whom I know you love, was once asked “Where were you saved?”
His reply: “Golgotha.”

I concur.

290   Chad    http://www.chadholtz.wordpress.com
November 24th, 2008 at 9:26 am

Your view is unscriptural and dangerous as well.

Dangerous to who, Rick? I would say it is very dangerous to those who would make salvation a comodity that they are the guardians of and can disperse only to those willing to exchange one belief system for their own (and that “system” would no doubt be Western Capitalist Christianity, to be sure).

Seriously though, how on earth is it dangerous to declare the greatest truth ever known to humankind, that, JESUS CHRIST IS LORD OF HEAVEN AND EARTH AND IN HIM YOUARE SAVED! THEREFORE, REPENT!

It’s dangerous in the sense that it could start a revolution. Or get you killed.

291   Chad    http://www.chadholtz.wordpress.com
November 24th, 2008 at 9:33 am

It is indicative of just how far american evangelicalism has missed the mark when it is said to be “dangerous” if you make salvation not about getting your *** out of hell (scaring them into relationship) but about loving the God who first loved you and saved you.

292   Rick Frueh    http://judahslion.blogspot.com/
November 24th, 2008 at 9:58 am

Rom.11:20-21 – Well, because of UNBELIEF they were BROKEN OFF, and thou STANDEST BY FAITH. Be not highminded, but fear. For if God SPARED NOT the natural branches, TAKE HEED lest he also SPARE NOT THEE.

Chad – you large view of salvation is well intentioned, however it is not in accordance with God’s Word which will always be the sole authority. Faith is a gift, but so is free will. To give false comfort to those outside the faith that somehow they will be with Christ in eternity is a dangerous lie and contributes to their false hope.

Scripture is against your propositions about the universal inclusion of all sinners in salvation. Your view is a partial Calvinist view that says God makes people believe without their own will. There are universalist Calvinists as well, though they are in the minority. It follows that when a person subscribes to any form of universalism his central spiritual calling becomes the earthly welfare of all men to the detriment of the everlasting gospel.

293   Chad    http://www.chadholtz.wordpress.com
November 24th, 2008 at 10:08 am

Faith is a gift, but so is free will.

Rick, I know what you are trying to say here, but since you are the one claiming to be on scripture’s side whereas I am not and claim to look only at scripture and nothing else, can you please point me to the verse that says faith is a gift “but so is free will“?

Not saying I disagree that we have free will (we do, and nothing I have said would negate that) but it is interesting that you come to that theological conclusion based on scripture when others would disagree with you vehemently, and on the same scriptural grounds.

To give false comfort to those outside the faith that somehow they will be with Christ in eternity is a dangerous lie and contributes to their false hope.

I disagree. But I guess you would advocate that the only and best way to evangelize those outside the faith is to scare the crap out of them with hell.

There is, Rick, a constructive middle ground – you just aren’t willing to see it or hear it.

It follows that when a person subscribes to any form of universalism his central spiritual calling becomes the earthly welfare of all men to the detriment of the everlasting gospel.

So God does not care about creation or this temporal life? It’s all about eternity?

One more time (since this question was never answered): How many times do we hear people in either the Old or New Testament preaching to people to believe X, Y, Z so that you can go to heaven instead of hell after you die?
You know as well as I that that is not the emphasis of scripture. I agree that we have MADE it the issue par excellance. But that isn’t scripture’s emphasis.

294   Rick Frueh    http://judahslion.blogspot.com/
November 24th, 2008 at 10:16 am

I do not discount earthly issues concerning humanity. However, getting to “heaven” would naturally be the most important issue. That is the Great Commission which doesn’t mention anything but preaching and teaching.

If a person believes the gospel he is saved. If he doesn’t he remains lost. Your view is a result of the ongoing doctrinal entropy and continues to move away from Scripture.

“What must I do to be saved?”

“Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and thou shall be saved.”

A call to the jailer to exercize his free will and believe. Your view would be:

“What must I do to be saved?”

“You are saved already through Christ, just believe it. But even if you don’t believe it you still are”.

That is unbiblical.

295   Chris L    http://www.fishingtheabyss.com/
November 24th, 2008 at 10:57 am

I agree we do not escape the consequences of sin without accepting grace. Where did I say otherwise?

My apologies for the lack of specificity. Your hope is that those who sin in rejecting Christ in this life will escape the consequences of that sin in the world to come. I, on the other hand, do not believe God to be a liar, or Jesus to be an overworked reactionary (since he seemed to believe that there was some sort of urgency and permanence to the actions in this life).

What, exactly, is the “universalist view” you say I am spouting?

From one side of your mouth, you say “not all roads lead to heaven”, and from the other you say “rather than saying we suspect there is a large segment of our society heading to hell we should be believing against such a fate for anyone”.

I am curious because you said you have not read all the posts here.

Actually, I said “I’ve been out for the past 150+ comments, so there’s no way to completely catch up”, meaning that I would not be commenting on everything said there (not that I hadn’t read it). Normally, if I’d missed so much of a conversation, I wouldn’t try to step back in with such an active position, but it seemed so far afield from reality that I felt it more of a responsibility not to seem like I was condoning the arc of the thread.

Please show me where I have stated that I believe hell does not exist or is an impossibility.

What you’ve stated dances around the topic, but seems to deny its permanence:
From #92: While I cannot deny the possibility of hell it is my hope, and should be the hope and desire of all those who know Christ Jesus, that hell will either not exist or be virtually empty (or on its way to being emptied).
Maybe your definition of “hope” is more expansive, but my understanding of hope, as taught by Jesus and his predecessors, is that it is the confident expectation of God fulfilling His promises. So, unfortunately, as I read His promises, I do not see a promise that hell will not exist or that it will be virtually empty, or that it will be (somehow) on its way to being emptied. In fact, I see quite the opposite.

I will agree that the gospel is not simply a fire-insurance policy or a “get-out-of-hell-free” card – that it is God’s gift and that it involves both belief and action (based upon that belief). But the sad truth is that most of humanity, since time immemorial, has rejected God and his Christ, and is therefore destined for an eternity apart from Him. I do not hope that God is a liar (which, when you boil it down, is the hope you’ve espoused), though I may wish that He would save everyone and that they would accept that salvation.

Could it be that you are just mixing the definitions of “wish” and “hope”?

Should you ever get the chance, ask Rob Bell these two questions:
(1) Based on what you know about God revealed in Jesus, do you have a hope that hell does not exist?

He’s answered this before with “it already does, and let us worry about ‘here’ and ‘now’ and let God take care of ‘there’ and ‘then’”.

(2) Do you know that hell is an eternal place where a “rather large number of people seem to be destined for?”

And in VE, Bell commented “hell is full of forgiven people”.

Where did I ever say “all roads lead to heaven?” I have rather said, explicitly, the opposite.

You’ve explicitly said the opposite, and then implicitly expressed it in an end-around fashion (see above).

If the woman in the article I linked to that started this whole thing, the woman in Africa drinking nasty water to survive, dies without ever hearing the name of Jesus Christ proclaimed or ever confessing the name of Jesus in this life time does she spend an eternity in hell?

Ah, the theoretical “native on an island” proposition…

If we are to believe Romans 1 (i.e. the evidence of creation), and if we take into account Peter’s description of Christ witnessing to the spirits (of those who had never heard of Christ, because he did not yet exist here on earth) in prison, there may be hope that they could still be rescued from eternal punishment (though a very slim one, since Peter doesn’t seem to extend this to the future). But even so, I would take Paul’s comment that “since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities—his eternal power and divine nature—have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that men are without excuse.” seriously, and say that it is far better for her to live in Christ and to accept his grace than to pin her ‘hopes’ on a post-mortem conversion.

From God’s perspective YOU ARE SAVED. Faith is that which allows you to LIVE INTO the reality that is ALREADY true about you.

To give a Rabbinic answer: God rescued all of the children of Israel from Egypt, but many died in the desert as a result of their grumbling and unbelief, and many were killed in the desert for worshiping the false gods of this world.

To be (slightly) more blunt – God provided the sacrifice necessary to save all, but not all of accepted the gift freely given, choosing to try and save themselves via a plethora of other means.

Rick: Chad – you large view of salvation is well intentioned, however it is not in accordance with God’s Word which will always be the sole authority. Faith is a gift, but so is free will. To give false comfort to those outside the faith that somehow they will be with Christ in eternity is a dangerous lie and contributes to their false hope.

Scripture is against your propositions about the universal inclusion of all sinners in salvation. Your view is a partial Calvinist view that says God makes people believe without their own will. There are universalist Calvinists as well, though they are in the minority. It follows that when a person subscribes to any form of universalism his central spiritual calling becomes the earthly welfare of all men to the detriment of the everlasting gospel.

QFT

296   Pastorboy    http://crninfo.wordpress.com
November 24th, 2008 at 11:47 am

It is really amazing where Phil’s original post has gone!

But this is really the ‘rending’ shift that is taking place here. And we are simply viewing the importance here of right theology and orthodoxy in order to support right orthopraxy.

Chad, we agree it is a good thing to help support the least and the last and the lost. Our core motivations differ. I do so for the glory of God. I believe that whether we eat or drink we should do so for the glory of God. And God gets the most honor, the most glory in the universe when a dead sinner repents and trusts him. My charity always ties to the verbal presentation of the Gospel, and my charity is a physical manifestation of what the Gospel does in the heart of a wretched man that God has changed.

On the other hand, there are those who give to allay a sense of guilt, to increase their righteous acts in the eyes of God, to create a heaven on earth by taking people out of the hell on earth that they are experiencing. Without the hope- the blessed hope- that Paul calls our heavenly home, we are more apt to be more concerned in making heaven on earth here and now than being concerned with the life after. And, I propose, that some do not see that eternity is already in place, and that we can experience the kingdom of God right here when we are in Christ.

The Gospel- the good news- works hand in hand and in conjunction with the way that we live our lives and the way we treat others here. But, I argue, you cannot have one without the other. Chad and his friends say you must have the one (giving water) regardless if the other is present. I prefer not to use the money God gives me that way.

297   Chad    http://www.chadholtz.wordpress.com
November 24th, 2008 at 1:16 pm

Rick,

I do not discount earthly issues concerning humanity. However, getting to “heaven” would naturally be the most important issue. That is the Great Commission which doesn’t mention anything but preaching and teaching.

Getting to heaven is the “most important issue”? Where do you get that idea?
The Great Commission is about going and making disciples – not converts to heaven.

Rick, you still have not answered the question: How many people are running around in the OT or NT calling people to believe X, Y, and Z so that they can go to heaven?

One other thought regarding the woman in Africa who never hears the name Jesus Christ…

Did Christ die for her?

298   Rick Frueh    http://judahslion.blogspot.com/
November 24th, 2008 at 1:37 pm

“Getting to heaven is the “most important issue”? Where do you get that idea?”

Let’s start with Jn.3:16, Jn.11:25-26, This life is but a vapor, What shall it profit a man if he gains…, I Cor. cahpter 15, and the overall theme of the New Testament.

“How many people are running around in the OT or NT calling people to believe X, Y, and Z so that they can go to heaven?”

The shallow presentation of the gospel does not change the issue of this discussion. Are you suggesting your view is reactionary to those people? I find it difficult to believe someone can read the New Testament literally and not believe that eternal life, beginning upon the moment of personal faith but actualized upon death, is not the theme of the Messiah’s entrance into this world.

If His purpose was to help the earthly situation of humanity He has been a dismal failure and the present world continues to suffer in contradiction to His plan. But if His purpose (for this cause came I into the world) was to defeat the second death which is the consequence of sin, then millions of sinners who have come into His grace by faith are a testament to the glory of His gospel.

299   Rick Frueh    http://judahslion.blogspot.com/
November 24th, 2008 at 1:39 pm

BTW – there are quite a few people “running around” telling people to believe on Jesus for eternal life in the Book of Acts.

300   Chad    http://www.chadholtz.wordpress.com
November 24th, 2008 at 2:02 pm

Your hope is that those who sin in rejecting Christ in this life will escape the consequences of that sin in the world to come.

False. No one escapes the consequences of sin. In fact, we are dealing with the consequences of sin in a very real and tangible way now, today. And it will be dealt with finally and definitively on the day of Judgment.

I, on the other hand, do not believe God to be a liar,

301   Chad    http://www.chadholtz.wordpress.com
November 24th, 2008 at 2:14 pm

Your hope is that those who sin in rejecting Christ in this life will escape the consequences of that sin in the world to come.

False. No one escapes the consequences of sin. In fact, we are dealing with the consequences of sin in a very real and tangible way now, today. And it will be dealt with finally and definitively on the day of Judgment.

I, on the other hand, do not believe God to be a liar,

PB,
Yes, PB, I, by virtue of being in disagreement with you, “on the other hand” believe God to be a liar. Sheesh.

From one side of your mouth, you say “not all roads lead to heaven”, and from the other you say “rather than saying we suspect there is a large segment of our society heading to hell we should be believing against such a fate for anyone”.

Chris, what do you suppose I mean when I say, and MEAN, that “not all roads lead to heaven?”

Maybe your definition of “hope” is more expansive, but my understanding of hope, as taught by Jesus and his predecessors, is that it is the confident expectation of God fulfilling His promises.

Yes, I do believe my definition is more expansive – at least when held up next to some here.

As for God fulfilling his promises I couldn’t agree more. Some of those promises include that ALL things are reconciled to God and that if Jesus be lifted up ALL will be drawn to him and that one day EVERY knee shall bow and EVERY tongue confess that Christ is Lord and not to mention God’s desire that NONE should perish but ALL have life.

I believe God will have all that God desires, don’t you? (and please note, this does NOT mean that one of God’s desires is not to judge sin and deal with injustice. It WILL be judged and dealt with).

and say that it is far better for her to live in Christ and to accept his grace than to pin her ‘hopes’ on a post-mortem conversion.

You are evading the crux of the issue. This is not a woman who is “pinning her hopes” on some post-mortem conversion but one who does not know salvation even exists let alone by whose name it comes.
Did Christ die for her? What hope does she have?
And please don’t be so smug as to call it “theoretical.” Thousands die every day never knowing the beauty of Jesus Christ in this lifetime or knowing the hope that you and I have within us. I find it callous of anyone to call their plight merely a “theoretical” discourse.

302   Chad    http://www.chadholtz.wordpress.com
November 24th, 2008 at 2:27 pm

The shallow presentation of the gospel does not change the issue of this discussion. Are you suggesting your view is reactionary to those people? I find it difficult to believe someone can read the New Testament literally and not believe that eternal life, beginning upon the moment of personal faith but actualized upon death, is not the theme of the Messiah’s entrance into this world.

A theme, but not THE theme. If you want to know what I think THE theme (not to the exclusion of others) of the Messiah was by his entrance into this world it was that the Kingdom of God/Heaven is at hand. Jesus hardly ever, if at all, talked about eternity. Certainly not with the emphasis or direction shown here.

303   Chad    http://www.chadholtz.wordpress.com
November 24th, 2008 at 3:35 pm

Rick,
I am still interested to know how it is you can say with such certainty that faith is a gift but so is our free will?

Perhaps you are like me on this issue (of free will) that while there may not be a smoking gun verse that states this about our humanity it is nonetheless a theme found woven throughout all of scripture and seems to be consistent with the character of God as revealed in Jesus, yes?

No doubt there are those that see a very different theme and stress a different attribute of God than we (like God’s sovereignty over and against God’s love).

I bring this up to hopefully help you appreciate the dubious position I seem to have found myself in here :)

peace.

304   Eugene Roberts    http://eugeneroberts.wordpress.com
November 24th, 2008 at 3:37 pm

In the light of the current conversation I find the following part of Scripture very interisting:

1 Cor 5:1It is actually reported that there is sexual immorality among you, and of a kind that does not occur even among pagans: A man has his father’s wife. 2And you are proud! Shouldn’t you rather have been filled with grief and have put out of your fellowship the man who did this? 3Even though I am not physically present, I am with you in spirit. And I have already passed judgment on the one who did this, just as if I were present. 4When you are assembled in the name of our Lord Jesus and I am with you in spirit, and the power of our Lord Jesus is present, 5hand this man over to Satan, so that the sinful nature[a] may be destroyed and his spirit saved on the day of the Lord.

Any thoughts?

305   Chad    http://www.chadholtz.wordpress.com
November 24th, 2008 at 8:09 pm

Interesting indeed, Eugene.

If I may sound a pastoral/personal note here, one of the things that I have come to see in the last year or so as I have explored the universality of the Cross is that the longer I walk with this one we know as Jesus the more I recognize how lost I am without him. The more steps I take with this Jesus the further I realize I am from this holy and wholly other God and how truly jacked up I am unless some One, some where, does some Thing.
As I have already said, the view I am trying (miserably) to articulate here is not something new (Origen was a universalist) or something I dreamed up from thin air. It is first and foremost the God I find revealed in scripture and primarily in the person of Jesus Christ. But even beyond that, it is a view I have come to find as true because if God would have a wretch like me in his Kingdom for eternity than he most certainly can have the world.

306   Rick Frueh    http://judahslion.blogspot.com/
November 25th, 2008 at 6:59 am

Gene – I have always thought that to mean that this correction would avoid the man slipping into apostacy. But I do know this:

Jn.5:29 – And some shall come forth; they that have done good unto the resurrection of life; and they that have done evil unto the resurrection ofdamnation.

In light of the fact that none have done good, we must believe that one sinner has his sins covered (atonement) and the other does not. This dichotomy is taught throughout the New Testament.

Jesus Himself told the Pharisees that they were keeping men from entering the kingdom and making them more fit for hell than were they. I believe God can do anything, however if indeed all sinners will be reconciled after death God will have to change his Word/mind. That scenario cannot square with clear New Testament teaching.

I have found this to be true in my own life and I suggest everyone ele. Once you come to some beliefe, and you read the Scriptures through the prism of that belief, it seems all the Scriptures are now in accordance with the belief you now espouse.

307   Eugene Roberts    http://eugeneroberts.wordpress.com
November 25th, 2008 at 9:51 am

I have found this to be true in my own life and I suggest everyone ele. Once you come to some beliefe, and you read the Scriptures through the prism of that belief, it seems all the Scriptures are now in accordance with the belief you now espouse.

I find this very true, Rick. That is why I stopped holding on tightly unto my own views thinking that somehow they will save me. It is God doing the saving work through Christ Jesus and I hold onto that with all I have. How He does it and who gets saved or not – that we can debate. At this moment I see scripture that points to damnation for some and I see scripture that points to reconciliation for all. Paradox? For sure! Does it worry me or make me feel my salvation is on the line? Never! What it does do is driving me to consider all the posibilities to try and figure out what God is doing and how He wants to use me in doing it.

308   Phil Miller    http://pmwords.blogspot.com
November 25th, 2008 at 10:55 am

As I have already said, the view I am trying (miserably) to articulate here is not something new (Origen was a universalist) or something I dreamed up from thin air.

Origen was a universalist to the point that he even believed the devil would be saved in the end. That’s neither here nor there, I suppose, but just an interesting tidbit. I do find that there’s really no Biblical evidence for that, though.

309   Rick Frueh    http://judahslion.blogspot.com/
November 25th, 2008 at 1:25 pm

” That’s neither here nor there”

Ah, the Frueh doctrine. :)