From Sodom to Jesus

22 So the men turned from there and went toward Sodom, but Abraham still stood before the Lord. 23 Then Abraham drew near and said, “Will you indeed sweep away the righteous with the wicked? 24 Suppose there are fifty righteous within the city. Will you then sweep away the place and not spare it for the fifty righteous who are in it? 25 Far be it from you to do such a thing, to put the righteous to death with the wicked, so that the righteous fare as the wicked! Far be that from you! Shall not the Judge of all the earth do what is just?” 26 And the Lord said, “If I find at Sodom fifty righteous in the city, I will spare the whole place for their sake.”

27 Abraham answered and said, “Behold, I have undertaken to speak to the Lord, I who am but dust and ashes. 28 Suppose five of the fifty righteous are lacking. Will you destroy the whole city for lack of five?” And he said, “I will not destroy it if I find forty-five there.” 29 Again he spoke to him and said, “Suppose forty are found there.” He answered, “For the sake of forty I will not do it.” 30 Then he said, “Oh let not the Lord be angry, and I will speak. Suppose thirty are found there.” He answered, “I will not do it, if I find thirty there.” 31 He said, “Behold, I have undertaken to speak to the Lord. Suppose twenty are found there.” He answered, “For the sake of twenty I will not destroy it.” 32 Then he said, “Oh let not the Lord be angry, and I will speak again but this once. Suppose ten are found there.” He answered, “For the sake of ten I will not destroy it.” 33 And the Lord went his way, when he had finished speaking to Abraham, and Abraham returned to his place.

(Genesis 18:22-33).

 

  • But there was that one time when God would spare the wicked for the sake of ONE righteous man…Jesus Christ.
  • This is good news to all of us who are wicked…(that’s all of us).

And to the one who does not work but believes in him who justifies the ungodly, his faith is counted as righteousness,just as David also speaks of the blessing of the one to whom God counts righteousness apart from works:

“Blessed are those whose lawless deeds are forgiven,
    and whose sins are covered;
blessed is the man against whom the Lord will not count his sin.”

(Romans 4:5-8).

For while we were still weak, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly. For one will scarcely die for a righteous person—though perhaps for a good person one would dare even to die— but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.Since, therefore, we have now been justified by his blood, much more shall we be saved by him from the wrath of God. 10 For if while we were enemies we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son, much more, now that we are reconciled, shall we be saved by his life. 11 More than that, we also rejoice in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have now received reconciliation.

(Romans 5:6-11).

 

In the name of Jesus Christ, may God keep you and bless you.  Grace and peace to you.

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The Fight

Ok,

Maybe you are like me and you have gone through the exact same thing that I am about to explain.  I’m swimming in the ocean of God’s grace and the thought hits me; “well, what I am supposed to do about obedience now?”

Like a flood all of the memories of sermons, lectures, principle offices, family meetings, “come to Jesus” moments at Summer Camp and at Marine Boot Camp come rushing in like an under tow.  “You can do better!”  “What is your major malfunction?!”  “What would Jesus do?!” “Remember your promise, promise keeper!” “You bear the name of Christ, Christian!  It’s time to live like it!”  “How can you do this?”  “Not in my house!”  “I am very disappointed in you!”

What on earth do we who have been set free from the Law of sin and of death (Romans 8:2) do with obedience?  I HATE it when I do not obey the Law.  I HATE IT I HATE IT.  It’s like I am in a fight with myself or something.  Which is truer than you think.  The Old Adam verses the New Man in Christ.  It’s like when it hits you that you are not being obedient and you are all like

liar liar 1

You sin that same sin for the umptienth time in 1 week and your inside doing this

liar liar 7

Someone asks you how your spiritual growth is going and you are all like this

liar liar 6

You are failing at this obedience thing big time.  “You?  A Christian?”, you imagine coworkers, family members thinking.   The gospel set you free!  You have grace!  You are no longer bound to and under the Law!  You should be happy and doing better right?  You have joy in the Lord right?  What about your light?  Aren’t you gonna let it shine?  Can’t you finally take that bushel off now, you smoldering wick you?

liar liar 2

Yet there I am, the sad sack of out of shape spiritual fat body.  Feeding on Christ and his bread?  More like feeding on a disobedience filled

full_metal_jacket_jelly_donut

New Years resolutions shot, spiritual growth chart goals gone and I’m right back in the confessional booth like Pre-Tower Experience Martin Luther.

liar liar 5

To really make matters worse, what if you are a preacher who has taught the gospel of God’s grace and unmerited favor all courtesy of Christ’s cross and blood and are now tasked with speaking about the Christian life and Christian obedience on Sunday and right now all you have planned to share on that is

liar liar 3

Well, you are not the only one. Even if you are not preaching on Sunday, maybe you have run into a friend who has asked you the same questions.  Well now that you are a Christian, saved and set free by grace what do you do about obedience?  Feel free to be a fly on the wall reading on the following modified conversation between ummm lets say Cack Zole and Brad Chird

————————————————————————–

Brad,

I have had a few things gnaw on me, to try to tell me that things such as a theology of the cross, grace, Law and Gospel distinctives are ultimately too good to be true.  I have had the pull to question and ask “what about holiness?  what about godliness?”  Are these things not to be pursed for the sake of resting in Christ?”  I fully believe that by faith I have been given the righteousness of Christ.  I have faith that sanctification and any pursuit of anything holy or godly is all Christ doing his work in me.  So it feels very dangerous for me to move towards an emphasis of the intentional and conscious pursuit of holiness and godliness.  I do not trust myself in the pursuit of either and only trust in the hope that Christ is working both in me himself.  I often fall back on Galatians 2:20, that it is not me who is living and doing things that could be counted as “holy, godly, etc” but it is Christ who lives in me….

I find it so very hard and quite honest repulsive to go back to a mindset that produces in me a desire to show that I am approved, to display that I am regenerate, and to be as dismissive as I was when looking through the lens of glory rather than cross…

Is the command to a pursuit of godliness meant to crush to cause us to run to Christ or is it a command for us to try?…

I humbly ask counsel all of this, appreciating and valuing your thoughts and understandings on the matters such as these.  I often have come across moments where deep questions are presented to me in a spirit of “I-believe-that-I-am-right-but-I-am-going-to-ask-a-challenging-question-to-prove-that-you-are-wrong-so-that-I-can-feel-more-pride-in-my-original-stance-and-feel-victory-over-revealing-to-you-how-stupid-you-are.”  I cannot stress enough that this is not the case.  My questions have no motive of quarrel or argument but a genuine thirst for counsel and good news.

Because He Lives,
Cack Zole
————————————————————————–
Good morning Cack,
     You’re caught in tension we all feel in this life as those who are simultaneously saints and sinners, who feel the law at work in us and yet find comfort in the grace of God.
     The call to lead a holy life, to pursue godliness, is nothing more than the demands of the law. Yet these demands are good. The law is not bad. It is given by God to show us the life that he desires for us. Yet, as you well know, as you experience in your daily life, no matter how hard you try, you always fall short of the law’s demands. That’s why we say that the law always accuses. It always finds something in our thoughts, words, deeds, and desires that convicts us. The law will never give us rest. And the law will always kill.
     That’s why the Gospel defines our life. This Gospel not only forgives us, but also fills us with the Holy Spirit, who produces fruits in us of which we may not even be aware. The Gospel is that life of Gal 2:20. We have died (by the law) and it is not longer we who live, but Christ who lives in us (by the Gospel). And since Christ lives in us, we are pleasing to God, even if we are not pleasing to ourselves. His righteousness, his life within us, and for us, is all that matters.
     The life of holiness is a gift. You are made holy, your life is made holy, exclusively in Christ. He is your sanctification, as Paul says in 1 Corinthians.
     The struggle between the Old Adam, who is always under the law, and the New Man, who is always free in the the Gospel, is a daily struggle. God is always putting us to death and raising us to life. Every day is Good Friday and Easter for us. It can feel almost schizophrenic at times, pulled this way and that. But above all this is Christ. His opinion of you is all that counts. And he says, “You are holy in me. You are righteous in me. Your are godly in me.”
     The theology of the glory will always take you back to yourself. The theology of the cross will always bring you to Christ. It is the way of life through death, resurrection through crucifixion.
I hope this helps. Blessings to you, brother!
Brad Chird
————————————————————————–

After hearing this Cack was like this

top gun

Man that is good news isn’t?  You are free!  And then leave it at that….Fight the good fight, telling fellow sinners the good news of God’s grace through faith in Jesus Christ.  Let’s attack licentiousness and sin with more grace so that Fundy’s can always be like

what are you doing

The Gospel For Those Broken By The Church | Part VI

PART VI

The Gospel for Those Broken by the Church

by Dr. Rod Rosenbladt

Let me illustrate with a couple of particularly embarrassing examples in my own church’s history.

     (Believe me, you’ve got some parallels in your church, too – no matter which church you belong to.) Two of the lowest points in Lutheran church history have to do with both the Peasants’ Revolt and with our persecution of the Anabaptists in the 16th century. The Peasants’ Revolt deeply frightened Luther (Luther very much feared anarchy as the worst of possibilities). In a letter to the German princes, Luther ordered them to use the sword and to slash and slay anyone who was out on the streets behaving like a revolutionary. (He quickly wrote a letter that appealed to the princes to ignore his first letter, but it was too late!) The peasants, thinking that Luther was backing them, were astounded when they learned that Luther had ordered the princes to “cut, slash, and kill them.” They felt totally betrayed. A real dark chapter in my church’s history.

     In a similar way, to the degree to which Anabaptist Christians represented any sort of “Spirit-given” ecclesiastical anarchy, one that had no place for church order, Luther unleashed on them, too. Lutherans took part in baptizing such people by immersion for about 10 minutes (Reformed and Roman Catholics went along with us in this, but I’m just speaking about my own church here).

     Reprehensible? You bet! Do I want to defend such executions to one of those “angry” at the church? Not a chance! Hate it as I might, I need to agree with the person with whom I am speaking. Same with some of the anti-Semitic things Luther himself wrote in his later life.

     I said that I recommend that we “cop to” some of the evil things the church has done. We might be tempted to start by trying to balance the charges, viz., mention the wonderful things the church has sometimes done. I recommend against that, too — at least in an evangelistic/apologetic conversation. Later on, we might speak about a book like Al Schmidt’s Under the Influence: How Christianity Transformed Civilization (Concordia) that catalogs just how our western world’s every corner was affected to the good by historic Christianity. Not now, however.

     But, since hearing Sam Kinison’s brother, I don’t want to leave the matter there. I hope you don’t either. You and I “copping to” the evil done by the church still leaves the “angry one” satisfied, justified in his anti-Christic state, and still miles from the Gospel. If the law has done its work on him, I want next to talk to this guy about the Gospel. I want to talk about Jesus’ claims – and if I can, particularly about Jesus’ claims regarding what He was going to do for sinners (including me and including him!) on the cross.

     Now you Lutheran pastors, don’t talk to me at this point about the Scriptural truths he would learn in your Pastor’s Inquirers Class about the sacraments! This kind of a guy isn’t going to come to your Inquirers’ Class to learn about the sacraments – or to learn about anything else! He’s too angry! Same for you Reformed pastors. This is not the time to start talking to this guy about the Scriptural truths he would learn in your Pastors Inquirers’ Class about the finer points of predestination! This kind of a guy isn’t going to come to your Inquirers’ Class to learn about election – or to learn about anything else! He’s too angry.

So what am I going to do?

     I’m going to talk about the Gospel as if it can be believed in totally apart from the church! You say to me, “Rosenbladt, that isn’t how Scripture presents the church!” I answer, “I know. But first things first! This guy needs Christ, Christ as priest, Christ as having bled for his sin, Christ as giving eternal life to sinners for free.” And in his mind, the church is what is keeping him or her away from Jesus Christ! If he comes to trust Christ and Christ’s sin-bearing death, the guy might later on deal with passages about “not forsaking the assembling of yourselves together . . .” But not now. To this guy, the church and its behavior is the “scandal!” (The real scandalon, according to Paul, is that we are sinners under condemnation, and cannot do anything to make things right with the holy God. The true scandalon is that Someone Else is going to have to satisfy God’s justice for us because we are unable –and unwilling – to do that).

     To put it another way, we sinners are in need of a divine Mediator. And without a divine Mediator, we are doomed. Scripture says, “There is one God and one Mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus.” At the judgment, the law of God will justly declare us condemned. And the Gospel is that God the Son freely agreed to die our death for us, to suffer our deserved condemnation and doom in our place. And He didn’t just agree from eternity to do that. He actually did it. On the cross. For free! And for each one of us. (Rom. 5:8)

     If your friend can see for just a moment that the truth of the Gospel does not turn on Christ’s church, but only on Christ’s resurrection from the dead, it might be the first time he has ever thought such a thought. Will he bend the knee to Christ as His Lamb and Substitute? Who knows? But you will have done him or her a great service. Would that all people who are angry agnostics or atheists were clear that their animosity toward the church for giving them nothing but morality as soon as they became Christians is really understandable. That we would have that same reaction. Believe it or not, that’s progress. I’ve sometimes said to people who reject Christ and His death as for their sin, “Well, you are one of the few I’ve met who has really rejected the Christian Gospel for the right reasons. Congratulations for that! But I recommend that you keep thinking about it. And keep asking the question, “Was Jesus really raised from the dead, or was He not?” Because if Jesus Christ was raised the third day, that is the best reason in the world to believe that He can make good on His claim that His death was a death for your and my sin, and that His cross and blood will be enough for anyone who dies still a sinner. Me. You.

     Lastly, we might be surprised to find that this guy is a Christian. He’s just vowed never to let a church do to him ever again what was done to him earlier. Do you know a church that won’t? (Don’t answer too quickly. There are not a lot of these – no matter what the “label” on the door.) Most of today’s churches will just re-inflame his anger, giving him “law-Gospel-law.” Find one for him instead that will speak to him of Christ—after he is a believer. If you don’t know one, tell him that. At least it’s honest.


Go Back to Part V of The Gospel For Those Broken By The Church

The Home of the Lecture and Permissions Can be Found at 1517 The Legacy Project

Citation link to White Horse Inn, Inc. blog mentioned above where I obtained the transcript and other media for Dr. Rosenbladt’s sermon “The Gospel For Those Broken By The Church”  – Dad Rod Thursdays – The Gospel For Those Broken By The Church

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The Gospel For Those Broken By The Church | Part V

PART V

The Gospel for Those Broken by the Church

by Dr. Rod Rosenbladt

Secondly, let’s talk about those alumni of Christianity who are not sad but “mad.”

     It is not all that uncommon. I find that these “angry ones” have usually not switched from Christianity to another religion. Nor have I found that they have switched from one Christian denomination to another. Instead, I find that they are angry at any and all religions and anyone who represents any religious position — but especially Christianity. And that is natural. After all, it was Christianity, as they see it, that “used them up and threw them away.” I suppose the most visible examples would be men like the late comedian Sam Kinison and ex-Roman Catholic George Carlin. You may (and probably do) know better contemporary examples than I know. All of us are in the vicinity of people like this at one time or another, maybe know a few of them as friends, or have at least met one or two in passing. Why do I say that? Because such people are, as I said, not all that uncommon these days.

     Now I certainly can’t this evening exhaust the dynamic involved in such people (again, I’m no clinical psychologist). But I still think a lot of the “mad alumni” also often have a nameable history, just as the “sad alumni” have one.

People like this often speak as if Christianity “baited and switched” them — just like a used car salesman “baits and switches” a young couple at a car lot.

     Christians promised them a new life in Christ in such a way that it was going to be a life of victory, God’s designed route to earthly happiness, a new, divine power that would solve the problems so obsessing them. Then, when the promises didn’t seem to work the way they were supposed to, the church put it back on these believers that they were somehow “not doing it right.”

  • They weren’t reading their Bible enough.
  • They weren’t praying enough or praying right.
  •  They weren’t attending enough church meetings.
  •  They weren’t making right use of the fellowship.
  • You name the prescription, you “fill-in-the-blanks” any way you want to.
  •  Some pastor or layman told them that Christianity was failing them because “they weren’t doing it right.”
  • And often, these believers took that counsel to heart and set themselves to trying to “do it better” or “do it right” so that “it would work.”

But again, Christianity seemed “not to deliver on its promises.” It “didn’t work.” As they see it, they “gave it every shot” and Christianity “failed to deliver.” And then, to boot, they were called guilty “for not doing it right!” These people feel not just disappointed; they feel betrayed, “conned.” And they are deeply angry about it.

Or take another example: those who heard much of Christ and His saving blood and cross in an evangelistic meeting, became Christians, and then heard very little of that wonderful message in the week-by-week pulpit ministry of their congregation. Instead, they heard recipes as to how to conquer sin — over and over and over. These people also often “give up on Christianity.” And they are angry about it! Really angry. And I don’t blame them, really. Nor should you. The church has an obligation to preach the Gospel to these people on a weekly basis. And deep down, they somehow know that. But if that isn’t what happens, they react. I would, too! After all, what does the church have for a man, a woman, a child other than Christ & His work on their behalf? Not much! Not compared to the Gospel of Christ preached as crucified for them and for their sin, Christ risen from the dead for their justification. Not compared to being absolved, not compared to eating the body of Christ given into death for their sin and drinking the blood of Christ shed for their sin.

Is there anything we can do that is of genuine help to such angry “alumni” of Christianity?

I think so. And the answer I’m about to give you comes right from a guy close to one of those angry ones. From whom? From Sam Kinison’s brother, Bill! How so?

One night I happened to be watching a “60-minutes” interview with Bill Kinison.

After Sam was in an auto accident on a lonely highway near Las Vegas, he lay dying. Bill was cradling Sam’s head in his arms as Sam died. Some time later, the interviewer asked Bill about Sam’s hatred of Christianity. And Bill looked at the interviewer and said, “What? You think Sam was not a Christian believer? You’re wrong! Sam died as a believer in Jesus Christ. You’ll definitely see Sam in heaven!  Sam never was angry with Jesus. He was angry at the church!” And I jumped out of my chair and yelled, “That’s it! There it is! There is the answer – and from Sam Kinison’s brother!”

What did I mean, “That’s it!”?

We can respond to the angry and say something like, “Oh, oh, oh, I see! You’re not angry at Jesus Christ. You’re angry at the church!” “Boy oh boy, join the club! So am I! And so are a whole bunch of other Christians!” [Here, if we had time, I would digress on how Christians angry with Christ will be saved by His cross, too. But this is not the time for that.]

Now this response takes more than a few minutes of thought on our part.

That is, “Am I ready to say such a thing?” And that’s not an easy question. For many of us—especially for us clergy—this question can be really difficult. Why? Because there is a predictable psychological profile of the clergy, including our closer relationship with our mothers, but not with our fathers. For most of us pastors, the link between Jesus and the church (a mother symbol) is so tight, so identical, that to be angry with mother church is the same as rejecting Jesus! It is not. But I’m recommending, at least in conversation with “the angry”—that we, all of us—identify with the anger of these people at the church, that we say, “Well, of course you are angry! With what it did to you? It would be insane not to be angry at it! I just misunderstood. I thought you had dismissed Christ, were rejecting His death for your sin. Thanks for clarifying.”

Again, I know that this is tough stuff. It raises questions in us that are not easy ones—particularly for us pastors who were closer to mom than to dad (and, unfortunately, that is most of us pastors). But I recommend that “we take the hit.” It’s not unlike the case with something like the Crusades or the Inquisition. I think most of us don’t want to defend everything the church has done in the past—at least I hope we don’t. And, believe me, the “angry” alumni are listening closely to see whether we are going to defend the church as much as we defend the Gospel. I recommend that we do not defend the church as much as we defend the Gospel! I recommend that we immediately “cop to” horrendous things done by the church. (And, for those of you who are Lutheran, this is not the time to try to catechize this guy into the finer points of Luther’s “Two Kingdoms” theory!)


To be Continued in The Gospel For Those Broken By The Church | Part VI

Go Back to Part IV of The Gospel For Those Broken By The Church

The Home of the Lecture and Permissions Can be Found at 1517 The Legacy Project

Citation link to White Horse Inn, Inc. blog mentioned above where I obtained the transcript and other media for Dr. Rosenbladt’s sermon “The Gospel For Those Broken By The Church”  – Dad Rod Thursdays – The Gospel For Those Broken By The Church

The Debate: Part II

In no way was I meaning to dip into the cesspool of false advertising…ok that’s a lie…I may or may not have desired to lead you to believe that I was going to be speaking heavily about these guys

Ghostbusters-Turn-on-Proton-Pack

Not to be confused with these guys

Ghostbusters

But the truth is that this post is going to jump right back into the meaty or should I say “heavy” stuff that is the Debate between Law and Gospel: Is there a distinction?  Or is there no distinction?  How does either view reconcile our understanding of the character and nature of God?  We continue from right where we left off in my Seminary topic from yesterday and I hope you enjoy.   Part II will look at the side of the debate that does not hold to a proper distinction of Law and Gospel.  Part III will pick up with the side of the debate that DOES hold to a distinction of Law and Gospel and will close out the rest of the paper concluding with the results of the research that I made.  If you do not enjoy deep, heavy or meaty theological thinking, well you should be fine…but you never know….I do love to gab but I am not as confident with the intellectual side of my thoughts as I am with my desire to share them.  So if you didn’t enjoy the bulk of the post yesterday now is the time to run away from the nightmare that is below

giphy

How is God’s Character Understood in the Law/Gospel Debate     

Walther writes that both the Law and the Gospel are equally necessary.  “Without the Law the Gospel is not understood; without the Gospel the Law benefits us nothing.”[1]  What may seem as a very cut and dry understanding to the observer in that there is an observable distinction between God’s Law and His Gospel is not universally accepted.  It may be in words but not in actions or practice.  Traditionally, there have been two opposing views when it comes to how sinners are to respond to God’s Law and His Gospel.  One side of the debate does not in practice displaying any distinction between by the way that they preach and the way that they teach scripture.  Some will go so far as to reject the idea that justification is by faith alone and will adhere to the believe that man does indeed have a part in his or her justification and or salvation in the sense that there is something that they must do for God.  Or there are those who may claim that they adhere to the belief in justification by faith alone but will be heavy on Law in their preaching to the point where they in a sense teach that God’s favor can be influenced by how well sinners improve upon pleasing him by keeping his Law. What is taught and implied is that sinners are saved by grace through faith in Christ but now they must provide the proper response that such grace deserves by Christian service, evangelism, discipleship, spiritual growth, spiritual discipline and work.  In a sense it a teaching of Law, Gospel, Law; killing the sinner, offering grace to the sinner and then killing the Christian.

It could be suggested that there is not necessarily any subscriber who would admit to being someone who affirms the label “no distinction” when it comes to Law and Gospel but it is likely that a misunderstanding can be made in what they more than likely adhere to.  The first observation here to be made is that they more than likely hold to a “no distinction” stance by insisting that God’s love, God’s favor, His salvation for sinners must receive an appropriate response from the sinner, proving their appreciation for God.  Without an appropriate level of thanks, one may suggest or question if saving faith is even in play for the sinner.  There is also an emphasis on the desire to want to please God and accepts the belief that sinners can please God in their works for Him.  This side believes that the sinner can live a life pleasing to God as a result of their growth in their relationship with God courtesy of their acts and works.  Again, this position might not ever be affirmed outright but in the way that they live their life and urge others to live theirs, this is implied indirectly.  Another motivation for infusing Law with The Gospel is that it is done with the intent to help assist in the sanctification of the individual in Christ.  It is seen as the more good works and keeping of the Law is in play, the more sanctified the sinner is becoming.  Without a heavy emphasis on the Law after the Gospel is preached, how can one know if they are growing in the faith is the usual thought.

To better understand this position, it may assist in observing some of the objections that they may have to the position that adheres to the belief in a proper distinction between Law and Gospel.  There is the ever present accusation of “Cheap Grace.” This is more or less the concept that those who adhere to an idea of grace without the passionate response that it so rightly deserves that they cheapen grace.  Dietrich Bonhoeffer was an enormous advocate of discipleship and say it as being a costly discipleship; to lessen the cost of the disciple for Christ in a sense would display an image of being a proponent of “cheap grace.”  In an article by Reverend Dr. Heino Falcke we read his explanation of Bonhoeffer’s position as that there needs to be a necessary striving of piety in the midst of the world, “in the midst of the burning political crises of the time.  Here prayed a person [Bonhoeffer] who, risking his whole existence, had “thrown himself into the arms of God”.  This was the spirituality of discipleship, that is, of “costly”, not “cheap grace”.”[2]

There is also the accusation that teaching a level of grace found in Law/Gospel preaching leads to antinomianism. Tullian Tchividjian, Grandson of the evangelist Billy Graham and Pastor of Coral Ridge, writes in his book “One Way Love,” about the accusation of antinomianism.  He accurately identifies this accusation as being a result of the following line of thinking

All right, so perhaps one-way love doesn’t promote laziness, but if you are telling people they can do whatever they want, won’t they…do whatever they want?  Won’t they indulge in all sorts of debauched behavior?  There seems to be a fear out there that preaching grace produces serial killers.  Or, to put it in more theological terms, too much emphasis on the indicatives of the Gospel leads to lawlessness.  Again, the formal name for the objection of lawlessness is antinomianism—preaching in such a way as to imply that the Law is bad and/or useless.  If the control and laziness objections tend to come equally from the religious and nonreligious world, then the antinomianism objection comes almost exclusively from the religious sphere.  After all, since our culture is already so permissive and morally lax, if we Christians don’t stand up for God’s standards of moral righteousness, His Law, then who will?  Is more grace really what this culture needs?  That doesn’t make sense.  It seems backwards and counterintuitive.  Unconditional pardon is probably the last thing lawless people need to hear, right?  Surely they’ll take advantage of it and get worse, not better.  After all, it seems logical that the only way to “save” licentious people is to show them more rules, intensify the exhortations to behave.[3]

This tongue in cheek response from Tchividjian assists in revealing the root deep objection to the preaching of Gospel void of an infusion of Law.

tobecontinued

Footnotes

                [1] Ibid., 6.

                [2] Heino Falcke, “My Bonhoeffer: discipleship, peace, freedom,” The Ecumenical Review 63, no. 1 (2011): 117, accessed May 8, 2015, http://go.galegroup.com.ezproxy.liberty.edu:2048/ps/i.do?id=GALE%7CA254096997&v=2.1&u=vic_liberty&it=r&p=AONE&sw=w&asid=063ba693d1a93fc1d85203124da3f0e6.

                [3] Tullian Tchividjian, One Way Love: Inexhaustible Grace For An Exhausted World (Colorado Springs: David C Cook, 2013), 190.

Drinkers Of The Found Christ

I am on a roll for some reason when it comes to looking back on some of my favorite movies as a kid.  As referenced in the previous post, Indiana Jones is by far one of my most favoritest movies from my childhood and as I look back, I realize that it has influenced me in my life in a major way.  Dr. Jones had me wanting to be a professor (still working on that) to be an archaeologist (I’m not but it would be rad if I was), have a library or office full of books (still working on that) and wear a cool hat, jacket and pack a whip.  I did become a history major and love looking at old places where old events happened (kinda close right?)  I often found it very interesting that there seemed to be a very heavy Biblical theme present in almost every Indiana Jones film….except Temple of Doom…that one was all for the fun of the freak out fest of eating snakes and rippin folks hearts out of their chest and don’t lie to me…you thought it was awesome…

I’ll be honest…if I ever happen to have the chance to eat chilled monkey brains (is it even legal?) I am so down for doing just that…the selfie opportunity alone could not be passed up on and would be my Twitter profile pic forever and ever…

monkey brain

AND FOR YOU PHARISAICAL FOODIE FUNDYS  WHO JUDGE ME ON BEING A STRICT CARNIVORE AND ADMONISH ME FOR WHAT I SHOULD AND SHOULD NOT EAT ALL I GOTTA SAY IS DON’T CALL UNCLEAN WHAT GOD’S CALLED CLEAN…HAMMOCK FROM HEAVEN PEEPLE!!!

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MMMM TASTY TASTY HAMMOCK CRITTERS…..

One of the scenes from Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade (which had the dashingly handsome Sean Connery in it who will always and forever be the real James Bond)

sean conneryfeatured a scene where Indy had to choose the cup of Christ (Holy Grail from Medieval tales).  When he drinks from the cup he gains immortality supposedly seen here….

Now we all know that even if we did find and confirm the finding of a cup that Jesus drank out of, that drinking from it would not magically manifest blessing, healing or favor…well most of us know that…but this scene does point to an understanding of what Jesus provides us with as we receive the gift of his life…

This is the passage that came to mind…the story of the woman at the well in John 4:7-14…

“7 A woman from Samaria came to draw water. Jesus said to her, “Give me a drink.” (For his disciples had gone away into the city to buy food.) The Samaritan woman said to him, “How is it that you, a Jew, ask for a drink from me, a woman of Samaria?” (For Jews have no dealings with Samaritans.)10 Jesus answered her, “If you knew the gift of God, and who it is that is saying to you, ‘Give me a drink,’ you would have asked him, and he would have given you living water.” 11 The woman said to him, “Sir, you have nothing to draw water with, and the well is deep. Where do you get that living water? 12 Are you greater than our father Jacob? He gave us the well and drank from it himself, as did his sons and his livestock.” 13 Jesus said to her, “Everyone who drinks of this water will be thirsty again, 14 but whoever drinks of the water that I will give him will never be thirsty again. The water that I will give him will become in him a spring of water welling up to eternal life.”

Never thirst again…think about what Jesus is saying here…what does this mean in regards to His resurrection and our sanctification specifically?  I have been battling with understanding how sanctification works and resting more in Christ has been what has helped me.  I believe it will help you also.  Keep this in mind…the water that we drink is the water of Christ…an everlasting water…we consume Christ and Christ is in us, apart of us, giving us life…Christ in us…

     The New Testament connects the resurrection to sanctification in similar fashion to how it connects the resurrection to salvation, justification and glorification.  The verses that first come to mind are Romans 8:30 as well as Galatians 2:20.  One thing that I failed to observe for many years is that it was the entire life of Christ that was given to me as a gift of grace.  He did not only die the death that I deserved, but he lived the life that I needed to have lived and came back to life so that I might also.  My only hope is if I have been imputed with the righteousness of Christ and that he stands as my substitute.  The life that Christ lived was given to me as if I had lived his life.  I heard Elyse Fitzpatrick once say that Christ and his imputed life to us is “not only as if we had never sinned, but also as if we had always obeyed.”  Realizing this, that Christ not only wipes my slate clean but then adds to my slate the perfect fulfillment of the Law that is needed in order to be counted as righteous before a holy God is mind boggling.  To know that my account looks like the account of Christ, frees me to live a life wanting to live for Christ.  Knowing that I am free to fail, free to love, free to enjoy and rest in Christ propels my sanctification, which is not me working on loving and becoming more like Christ, but my life responding to the knowledge that Christ has already loved and covered me with his righteousness.

Reading an article by Tullian Tchidjian that referenced Martin Luther’s view on sanctification has helped me understand this far greater than I had originally hoped.  Martin Luther wrote about the distinction between passive righteousness and active righteousness.  This was to show the Christian how we live before God vertically and before our neighbor horizontally.  Luther stressed that our righteousness that we have received from Christ is the one that we present to God and it is a passive righteousness that is received and defined by faith.  On the other hand, our righteousness before each other is an active righteousness that is defined by service.  Tullian Tchividjian further explains that

the reason this distinction is so helpful is because one of the insinuations whenever the doctrine of sanctification is discussed is that my effort, my works, my pursuit of holiness, my faith, my response, my obedience, and my practice of godliness keep me in God’s good graces.  This, however, undermines the clear Biblical teaching that things between Christians and God are forever settled because of what Jesus has accomplished on the cross (Romans 8:1’ 31-39, Colossians 2:13-14).  When we imply that our works are for God and not our neighbor, we perpetuate the idea that God’s love for us is dependent on what we do instead of on what Christ has done.  We also fall prey to what John Piper calls, “the debtors ethic”-paying God back for all he’s done for us (Tchividjian, Liberate). 

Understanding that the entire point behind my sanctification is that it is empowered by Christ and his life helps present a more clear picture of what his resurrection means.  Because Christ lives, I now live.  Because his life has been given to me, I am now free to give my life to others.  I have been crucified with Christ.  It is no longer I who live,  but Christ who lives in me.  And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me (Galatians 2:20).  Knowing that His resurrection means my resurrection and that his righteousness has been given to me as my righteousness to wear, I don’t need anything from anyone else.  Therefore, I am free to serve my neighbor without any need in return from them which awesomely enough is what Christ has done for me, which also so happens to be the understanding behind sanctification…the process of being made holy.  I am passively holy because of the life, death, and resurrection of Christ.  I am actively holy because the joy that I have in being made passively holy, when it is honestly manifested, is a result of Christ loving me and covering me with His righteousness.  All of my actions are somehow tainted with my sinful desires and motivation. Which is why my only hope in my sanctification is in the perfect substitutionary life of Christ.  So often we worry that we are getting it all wrong and that our Heavenly Father is so mad at us for our mistakes and failures…But God is never mad at his adopted children in Christ.  He will never leave us or forsake us…being disappointed or mad at behavior is a result of unmet expectations…but because of Christ, all of what is expected from you has been provided by Christ….Your Father is not mad at you or grossed out by you…he is well pleased with you…because He is well pleased with Christ….

Indiana and dad

That is very good news….good news that has me wanting to close out the day and ride into the sunset, looking for new adventures in this life.  Knowing that Christ is with me…the real question is…now what do I “want” to do?

Welcome, To The Real World…

morpheus-matrix

 

I am a nerd.

If I have not made that evident, this post will surely remove all doubt.

I love nerd things.  I love sci-fi, I love Start Wars, I love Comic Books and I have tried to keep up with the new story arcs throughout the years.  I squeal at every new Marvel Movie and GOTG (Guardians of the Galaxy, sorry non nerds I realized you wouldn’t know the acronym) was my favorite movie of 2014.  I love to read and read and read.  I love to read dystopian novels like 1984, Brave New World and One Second AfterThe Walking Dead is filmed in my back yard.  Well, not literally my back yard but not that far away over here in Atlanta, GA.  I can remember hearing radio announcements that would say, “if you hear gun fire or see zombies/walkers don’t freak out it is just the Walking Dead filming.”  I revel in the fact that you may be thinking to your self “The Walking Dead isn’t nerdy, I like it.”  That is awesome news to this nerd whenever nerdy things are more popular with the regular folks like you maybe.  But the point I am trying to get across is I probably easily fall into the nerd/fanboy category when it comes to my tastes in entertainment.  I like deep thought, I like deep books and movies and I love to talk about deep things especially theological stuff, like apologetics and junk.  I am a theology nerd which is a rare Captain Planet like combination of Geek, apologist, theologian, nerd.  When those powers are combined you get Captain Grace Nerd or something like that.

Therefore, I believe this illustration may not translate well to some, especially those who may roll their eyes at deep theological thinking and Sci-Fi as being a waste of their time or rubbish.  But for those who are wanting me to get on with this post to serve up some theonerd sauce, this post is for you.  Actually, it is for anyone who may not have figured out this grace thing out yet.  I was in your shoes not that long ago and I hope this helps.

There was a movie that came out in the late ‘90s that spawned a trilogy called “the Matrix.”  I absolutely ate this movie up.  If you had asked me at the time I would have said that it was my favorite movie of all time.  If you haven’t seen this movie you really need to go see it, unless of course you believe that seeing a rated R movie will send you to hell…wouldn’t want to send you into that dimension of guilt and personal unholiness.  I think it may come on AMC and or FX from time to time so wait and DVR that version; it should be on a more righteous setting for your taste.

Surely I am not the first one to create the parallel which I am about to serve up, it is just too good of a fit.

If you have not seen the movie THIS IS YOUR SPOILER ALERT DO NOT READ ANY FURTHER…

Personally…I’m the nerd who has that funny look and laugh whenever someone says that they have never seen Star Wars or the Matrix…”YOU’VE NEVER SEEN STAR WARS/THE MATRIX?”  YUK YUK YUK (nerd laugh)

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If you have seen the movie, you will remember the scene where the character Morpheus who has been to the real world and now operates freely and miraculously in the Matrix presents an offer to the other character in the movie, “Mr. Anderson” or his real world name “Neo.” No, my theological illustration is not comparing this to the Saul/Paul difference of before/after Christ identities, which is a neat one to make.  But what I am going to try to go after is something a little deeper I think. In this scene of serving up his offer to Neo, Morpheus presents this choice to him and says,

“This is your last chance.  After this, there is no turning back.  You take the blue pill—the story ends, you wake up in your bed and believe whatever you want to believe.  You take the red pill—you stay in Wonderland, and I show you how deep the rabbit hole goes.  Remember: all I’m offering is the truth.  Nothing more.”

red-pill-blue-pill

Did this not have your theological connections spinning?  Haven’t we heard this before?  Remember Neo taking the red pill to realize that he is waking up from a prison cell; a cell that he has never been able to see before until now?

That is how I feel every day when I realize that Jesus has set me free from the bondage of the Law and Sin.  Grace has opened my eyes to see that I am now free from the bondage of my sin and my failure to fulfill the law.  The Spirit of life has set me free in Christ Jesus from the law of sin and death (Romans 8:2).

In the rest of the movie, even though Neo now knows the truth, he still hasn’t fully realized what He is capable of in the Matrix.   It is not because he hasn’t trained to know, earn, or learn what he is capable of but it is about renewing his mind (yeah, renewing your mind, that connection can be made in the Bible too, Romans 12:9).  It wasn’t until Neo finally “got it” and realized who he was in the Matrix was he able to see the construct of the Matrix and how the enemy operated in it.  He was able to move freely, he was not bound by the law of the Matrix and was able to see through the Matrix because of something he always had with him but never knew how to tap into before, until coming to grips with his new identity.  Remember that part when Morpheus gets the question from Neo about what he will be able to do when he understands his new identity?

Neo: What are you trying to tell me? That I can dodge bullets?
Morpheus: No, Neo. I’m trying to tell you that when you’re ready, you won’t have to.

That is like what has happened to those of us who finally get what God’s grace has done to us.  By God’s unconditional gift of grace, our new identity is in Christ, not in who we were before; dead slaves in our Matrix, Ghost Buster goo pod.  We now have everlasting life, reconciled with God forever, Because of Who Jesus is and what He did. Our earthly shells may fail us but our identity in Christ never will.  What I am trying to tell you is not that you will be able to fulfill God’s law by growing in obedience, growing spiritually, mastering your sin, gaining righteousness and gradually getting better and living righter because of Grace.  

I am not telling you that you can dodge the Law.  No, Neo.  I’m trying to tell you that because of Who Jesus is and What he has done for you, you won’t have to.

OwnIt-MatrixBullet

Jesus is the only person who ever can and ever will fulfill the law.  That is why our only hope is to rest in and have faith in Jesus.  That is why Jesus is the way, the truth and the life and that no one can come to God, be reconciled with God without going through Him (John 14:6).

Many of us have grown up in a prison cell in church or by a church where we are told that there are certain rules that we cannot break if we want to remain in close fellowship with God.  We are told that if we do not obey the rules of the Law or the Matrix than we will surely die and surely be in a position where God must thrash us.

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Yet this kind of talk does not even belong in the conversation in regards to someone who is in Christ.  Romans 8:1 makes it clear that there is no thrashing available for us.  These threats from these “Matrix Churches” are empty and quite honestly, a lie, all out of ignorance, lack of seeing the truth of the gospel of grace; or worse, out of a demonic desire for control and power over the members of said church.  2 Corinthians 5:21 says “For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.”  Jesus took your thrashing and God has offered you grace.

Grace in the realization that we are sinners and our only hope for mercy is Christ.  Knowing that God has given you grace by having faith in Christ changes everything.  It is like taking the red pill.  Does that mean life will now go perfect?  In the movie the Matrix that certainly was not the case, they still had their problems.  But as for Neo, he was no longer slowed down or enslaved by the Matrix.  The Grace of God frees us from being slowed down and enslaved by Sin.  Seeing this, growing into grace, lets you see the Matrix or better yet our world as it is.  Grace shows us how we can move through life unhindered by our sin and slack fulfillment of God’s Law because of Christ who is in us.

Christian, this is something that cannot be earned and cannot be learned.  It is something that has, is, and always will be present in you.  The only thing that is holding you back is that you are still stuck in the mode of waiting for something from Christ when you already have everything in Christ.

Christ alone, Christ in us changes everything. 

You might begin to notice opportunities to show grace to people who are spitting in your face or hurting others.  You will notice opportunities to serve and love other people.  You might even find a way to show grace to “Christians” who are still stuck in the Matrix of the gospel of works.  You will start to see the moves, steps and strategies of how God has divinely placed you in situations and conditions for His glory and for the gospel of His grace.  You will come to realize that there are no such things as coincidences and luck but were always God’s divine strategy, sovereignty and will; all done for the glory of His name.  You will laugh and feel joy/praise on those days when you do not feel like you are saved because of how you just jacked something up or thought BECAUSE you KNOW that God’s grace is STILL with you and that God will NEVER leave you and WILL ALWAYS LOVE YOU (Romans 8:35-39).  The one distinction I might make that would be more in line with how we are woken up from our spiritually dead condition, is if the movie showed Morpheus hover over to Neo’s bubble bath prison pod, leaned down to his ear and said “Neo, WAKE UP.”

neo2

This is how it is with us when God calls us to salvation.  Our condition was dead, yet God’s gift of grace said to our spiritual corpse “wake up” and we did.  Think how silly it would look if we said, “man I’m so glad I woke up when God told me to, thank goodness for that righteous work of mine.”  It was all God, y’all.  All God.

If God has given you the red pill of being saved by grace through faith in Christ…”there is no turning back…remember: all I’m offering is the Truth [Jesus].  Nothing more.”

Welcome.

To the real world.

desert