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Wednesday, August 19, 2015

Whose Side Are You On?

In Paul's first epistle to the church at Corinth he had a variety of problems to address. He opens up with the first one here.
Now I mean this, that each one of you is saying, "I am of Paul," and "I of Apollos," and "I of Cephas," and "I of Christ."
(1 Cor 1:12)
In my brief series on the tyranny of the Noble Sentiment, I wrote a piece on Sentiment on Atonement about how noble sentiments lead people to disbelieve that humans are in need of atonement for sin. You know, "God doesn't require a sacrifice for sin. He can just forgive." Very noble. Not very biblical. My first commenter disagreed. "Appeasing a wrathful God is not reading Scripture from a Jesus hermeneutic," he said. "Jesus said, I desire *mercy*, not *sacrifice*."

So what did Jesus say about the Gospel? We understand the Gospel to be something like "justified by grace through faith". Good stuff. You may be surprised to learn, then, that a word we never hear from the recorded words of Christ is the word "grace". Not once. We read that Jesus was "full of grace" (John 1:14) and that "of His fullness we have all received, and grace upon grace" (John 1:16), but both of those are things that John wrote, not that Jesus said.

It's interesting. The Pauline Dispensationalists are concerned because Jesus appeared to preach a works-based salvation. "Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand." (Matt 4:17) The "gospel of the kingdom" (Matt 4:23). The Pauline Dispensationalists pit Paul against Jesus and conclude that Paul was right and Jesus was wrong. Well, to be fair, He wasn't wrong; He was superseded. But if you're planning to get your "saved by grace through faith" gospel from Jesus, you'll be sorely disappointed.

"Well," the "Jesus hermeneutic" side will assure me, "Jesus never said anything about blood for salvation or payment for sin." Are you sure?

Jesus said, "The Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give His life as a ransom for many." (Matt 20:28) "Ransom for many" is not an empty payment. A ransom is a price paid to free someone. Jesus said He came to pay that price. Jesus said, "I lay down My life for the sheep." (John 10:15) That is not a mere "Christus Victor" concept. Jesus said He laid down His life for a purpose. "Okay, but not a blood sacrifice." In the Gospels and in 1 Corinthians 11 (1 Cor 11:23-26) we have the Lord's Supper.
And when He had taken some bread and given thanks, He broke it and gave it to them, saying, "This is My body which is given for you; do this in remembrance of Me." And in the same way He took the cup after they had eaten, saying, "This cup which is poured out for you is the new covenant in My blood. (Luke 22:19-20)
Jesus asked us to remember this ... on a regular basis. Remember what? "My body which is given for you" and the blood "poured out for you," what Jesus called "the new covenant in My blood." That is a blood sacrifice for salvation.

To the Pauline Dispensationalists I say you're mistaken. What Paul calls "my gospel" he also calls "the gospel of Christ". Indeed, Paul argues that even Abraham (and, therefore, by extension, everyone throughout the history of mankind) was saved by faith (Rom 4:1-5). Jesus didn't preach "another gospel" opposed to Paul's. (I argued here that He used the term "gospel" in a different way, but not that He preached a different Gospel than the "saved by grace" one.) To the "Jesus hermeneutic" crowd who would like to claim that Jesus did not preach a "saved by the blood of the Lamb", "gave His life as a ransom" gospel, but a purely "saved by faith without satisfying the justice of God" version, I say you're mistaken. Paul didn't oppose Jesus. Jesus didn't oppose Paul. And those of you, on either side, who argue that it's true simply lead to a fragmented (and, therefore, rather unreliable) Bible. Until you can arrive at a "the Bible agrees with the Bible" position on this, don't try to tell me about your great love for the Bible or for Christ (the Word). It would appear that neither Paul nor Jesus would agree with you.


Josh said...

I have a question for you. If Jesus died to "pay" God for our sin, in what way are we forgiven?

Stan said...

I ... suppose I don't understand the question. If the debt incurred by my sin is paid by Christ, then I no longer owe the debt. It is forgiven. If the price of my sin is satisfied by Christ, I don't have to pay it. I'm forgiven.

Josh said...

You are saying that Christ is paying the debt. That is different than forgiveness. One requires payment, one is a cancelation of debt. So, does God forgive or not?

Stan said...

Interesting. You define "Free Will" different than I do and now you define "forgive" different than I do. No wonder there are things on which we don't agree. We don't use the same words.

So, the dictionary says that "forgive" means "to grant pardon for or remission of" or "to give up a claim on account of". Here's the deal. We have violated God's requirements. Justice demands that this violation be ... balanced. We owe. Christ comes along and says, "I'll pay the debt." Now, since it is a violation, God has no obligation to accept as payment on our behalf what Christ will pay. Since God opts to accept it, our obligation is pardoned; God gives up His claim. That looks like "forgive" to me.

Perhaps you have a different idea. If God forgives -- no payment made, no compensation offered, no remittance, the whole thing is just written off -- then in what sense can He be called "just"? In what sense is He "just and justifier" (Rom 3:26)? If no justice is exercised, how is He just? In what sense is Jesus a "ransom" (Matt 20:28; 1 Tim 2:6) or a "redeemer" (Acts 7:35; Gal 3:13)? In what sense are we "ransomed ... with the precious blood of Christ" (1 Peter 1:18-19)? If God simply cancels the debt (without any apparent cause), in what sense is Jesus our "propitiation"?

Josh said...

In what sense is God just, by killing the only innocent person that ever lived? Explain to me what justice is then? As far as Jesus being a ransom. Isn't a ransom usually paid to the bad guy? Redeeming is to "free from captivity" or "release from blame or debt." I agree that Jesus paid a ransom, just not to God. I also agree that Jesus is a redeemer, just not redeemed from God's captivity or God's blame. Also, "propitiation" can mean mercy seat or place of atonement. Romans 3:25 is then saying, God presents Jesus as the "mercy seat" or the place where we find mercy.

Stan said...

1. I asked in what sense God is "just and justifier". You answer, "In what sense is God just by killing the only innocent person that ever lived?" That simply says that Paul was wrong in his evaluation of God as just and justifier. I'm sure you intended a different answer.

2. We're back to an earlier problem. "Ordain" and "cause" are not the same thing. God didn't kill His Son.

3. You appear to disagree that justice means righting the wrong, "balancing the books". You appear to disagree that humans, by their sin, owe anything that must be paid, so to speak. You'll have to give me your definition of "justice", then, because I don't know how else to answer your question. (And it appears that we're compiling a growing list of terms we use in common without common definition.)

4. You appear to disagree that "ransom" and "redeem" are terms requiring payment or some such. Perhaps you can add these alternative definitions for me. For reference, the Greek ἐξαγοράζω -- exagorazō -- is used in Gal 3:13 and is translated "redeemed". I means literally "to buy up", "to pay a price to recover". The Greek λύτρον -- lutron -- is used in Matt 20:28 and is translated "ransom" (Jesus said it). It means "the price for redeeming". And the Greek ἱλαστήριον -- hilastērion -- translated "propitiation" in Rom 3:25, 1 John 2:2, and 1 John 4:10, means "to conciliate". It is the same as "the mercy seat" in the sense that the mercy seat (the lid of the Ark in the Temple) was the place that God was conciliated by the sacrifices of the people. That is, it only means to conciliate, to placate, to stop someone from being angry, to pacify. The only meaning of the word, whether it occurs on the mercy seat or on the cross, is to appease God's wrath. As such, I still don't know in what sense Jesus is "our propitiation" if He didn't placate God's wrath.

Anonymous said...

let consider some basic concepts for critical thinking.
1. a general statement can be made about a specific idea.
2. a specific statement cannot be made about a general idea.
if johnny sticks a pencil in his eye, i can say that johnny is going to have a headache.
i can say that johnny is going to have a bad day. both are just general ideas about johnny's condition, i may even use humor via the aforementioned understatements. all of which do appreciate johnny's hurting eye.
if as in case #2 if johnny has a headache,and i don't know the specific reason why, i cannot make a specific statement about his condition. such as because he stuck a pencil in his eye.
this is because i have no supporting evidence to make such a claim.
now apply this to the concept of atonement.
the bible specifically states that man has sinned against God and needs a savior.
now with that information i can describe this condition/situation in many ways, some general and some specific. since i know the specific situation i may use many parallel ideas to express it with out doing violence to the original idea.
a useful tool of the critic, is to first redefine specific statements in such a way so as to lose the common sense meaning, then since the original idea is lost in obscurity they can now provide alternative explanations. i call this method "rendering meaning by obfuscation"

David said...

A ransom is paid to the person demanding the payment. It is only in our mentality that he is bad because we only think of kidnappers demanding ransom.