Jean’s Gospel: Blessed are the Not Offended

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38 Responses

  1. Em says:

    Pretty much amen to this post…

  2. Jean says:

    I read a comment from Michael on his Things… thread, which has caused me sadness:

    “I know I’m a sinner…and there are always voices to assure me how bad a one I am.
    There have been far fewer voices speaking to me of the love of God…”

    I can empathize with Michael’s experience. I don’t know all the motives, but I think a lot of that mindset is a real discomfort and/or mistrust with God’s unconditional grace. Paul likes to use the conversion of Abraham as an example:

    “Abraham believed God, and it was counted to him as righteousness.”

    (I would add the example of Jesus:

    “Whoever believes in me, as the Scripture has said, ‘Out of his heart will flow rivers of living water.’ ”)

    Jesus and the apostle do not leave any room, not even a millimeter, between the (1) promise and (2) forgiveness, for works of repentance or obedience to any law on our part.

    How are we different from God?

    “The love of God does not find, but creates, that which is pleasing to it. The love of man comes into being through that which is pleasing to it.”

    This love of God, which is bestowed on us in the form of a promise on account of Christ, and which creates a new being, is very difficult to believe, and also is very difficult for preachers to distribute. Why? Because of the fear that we will misuse this gift. But this fear or mistrust is nothing new:

    “But if, in our endeavor to be justified in Christ, we too were found to be sinners, is Christ then a servant of sin?”

    So, let us push on unashamed. Let us proclaim the love of God in Christ. Let us proclaim the righteousness of faith apart from the law. Let’s not add any “but” to the Gospel. “[I]t is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes”.

  3. Duane Arnold says:

    As in any quotation, context is important. Michael was actually elaborating on what he had said earlier in the thread:
    “We should have a high view of sin…but a higher view of the love of Christ.”

  4. Jean says:

    I don’t see a conflict in the context.

  5. Em says:

    Jean, perhaps, for some it takes time to come to the level of spiritual maturity to grasp the concept of grace – is it not so intertwined with mercy that we humans have difficulty the divine view …? Righteousness and justice (God’s) are so far above what the natural man can understand…
    We truly must learn to be learners – to trust the Holy Spirit to increase the mind of Christ in us….
    ….
    Now i fully expect my poorly expressed views to be corrected and clarified – to line up with the Lutheran view… 😉
    No worries

  6. Jean says:

    No need to be defensive, Em. All questions are welcome and provide the opportunity for deeper discussion.

    Trust is a gift of the Spirit, and as a trait it is apprehended by no less than little children. Trust is something we are tempted to unlearn as we seek a righteousness or wisdom of our own.

    “but Jesus said, ‘Let the little children come to me and do not hinder them, for to such belongs the kingdom of heaven.’ “

  7. Em says:

    Jean, to have the humility to learn IS to come as a child… That said, i believe it goes one step further, God is pleased when His spiritual children grow … spiritually … 😇

    Enough tapping on this little tablet thingie for me today … God keep

  8. Jean says:

    Em,

    “That said, i believe it goes one step further, God is pleased when His spiritual children grow … spiritually …”

    This is the prevailing view in evangelicalism. For the sake of discussion, what does spiritual growth look like? In other words, what is spiritual growth and how does it come about?

  9. Jerod says:

    Amen. “Jesus answered and said to them, ‘This is the work of God, that you believe in Him whom He has sent.’ “

  10. Em says:

    Jean, re your 3:04
    Galations 5:18-26. … Pretend, imitate or renew

    IMX = focus

    I hope this does generate some discussion … with others. 😇

  11. Jean says:

    Thanks, Em. I’m really glad you brought Paul’s epistle to the Galatians into the discussion. That epistle is a succinct distillation of Paul’s theology regarding justification.

    Paul has a very high view of the power of the Gospel. He understands the objection against Christian freedom. However, early on he responds: “I do not nullify the grace of God, for if righteousness were through the law, then Christ died for no purpose.”

    Although someone might wrongly comprehend the Gospel as allowing or permitting licentiousness, Paul will not abandon Christian liberty. Grace, according to Paul, must be unconditionally given. That is the crux of our problem: Does the Gospel have power or not? Can Christians endure as adopted children? Or must they remain under a tutor? A prison guard? A slave master?

    Paul also addresses the issue in his epistle to the Romans:

    “What then? Are we to sin because we are not under law but under grace? By no means! Do you not know that if you present yourselves to anyone as obedient slaves, you are slaves of the one whom you obey, either of sin, which leads to death, or of obedience, which leads to righteousness?”

    All this brings us back to the Sermon on the Mount: “A healthy tree cannot bear bad fruit”. The Gospel promises to make us a healthy tree. A healthy tree cannot bear bad fruit. But, and this is really important, we cannot make ourselves into a tree, much less a good tree. We must be re-born from above, by the work of God, which gives birth to the Christian through the hearing of faith.

    Hearing with faith bestows the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit bears fruit. So, going all the way back to my take on Michael’s early comment, I think Christians need more Christ and His love, which births and strengthens faith like good fertilizer to a tree. Then we should have full assurance that good fruit will result.

  12. Em says:

    Jean, why do i feel like a diving board here? 🙋

  13. Jean says:

    No worries Em. This topic in particular is very near and dear to me.

  14. Michael says:

    Jean,

    There was a time when I couldn’t wait to engage in this kind of theological discussion, though I was far more enamored of Bucer and Calvin than Luther.
    These days, I have little use for them at all.
    The faith becomes reduced from a relationship with the living God to dry formulations of chosen words to create doctrine to be debated .
    This discussion has little to do with what I was talking about on the other thread.
    That’s ok.
    These days I’m more concerned with greater questions.
    On the way home tonight Trey asked a question kind of off the cuff about my dearly departed cat, Chester.
    It hit me when I was tired and tears came again.
    “Did God cry when Chester died?’
    Now, I am fully capable of a detailed theological response drawing from both Testaments, the Gospels, and the Epistles.
    Instead I told him the simple truth as I understand it.
    “Yes, because He loves us both”.
    I believe that taught him more about God than a detailed exposition of Galatians.
    Your mileage may vary.

  15. Jean says:

    I don’t know what is dry in Galatians or Romans or the Gospels, and I don’t know what greater questions might exist than how a man is justified before God, but I won’t argue with you about it. I will just proclaim it and let the bird fly. Thanks for the platform.

  16. Em says:

    Justified…. It is on each of us to adjust to to the justice of God – God is absolute and holy…. If we can get our minds around that and face the fact that we are flawed which manifests differently in each of us – in both degree and type … think of the twelve men Jesus chose to follow Him
    If we understand who and what God has revealed to us of Himself… IMO … grace becomes a treasured gift not to be taken lightly or abused
    I hope you draw strength from your desire to help the rest of us understand our riches in Christ, Jean… They say teaching helps the teacher also

  17. Michael says:

    Jean,

    Every doctrine, no matter how grand, becomes a way of desiccation if not fully grounded in the love of God and the truth that all His acts on our behalf are from that love.

  18. Jean says:

    Hi Em,

    “They say teaching helps the teacher also” That’s very true and in a threefold way: (1) preparing an article provides the opportunity for in depth study of the subject matter of the article; (2) comments received are often instructional and upflifting; and (3) questions and comments sometimes move the discussion in an unforeseen direction which opens up new vistas for inquiry.

    “Justified…. It is on each of us to adjust to the justice of God”

    That’s a great temptation, but also a great deception. We don’t want to and frankly can’t adjust to the justice of God. Why? Because “the intention of man’s heart is evil from his youth.” and “None is righteous, no, not one; no one understands; no one seeks for God. All have turned aside; together they have become worthless; no one does good, not even one.” If there had been a single man or woman in the post-fall history of the human race who could have adjusted to the justice of God, Christ would not have had to come as our sacrifice of atonement.

    What we need (and are given, praise the Lord) is a Gospel that will adjust us. In biblical terms, we call this “repentance.” And that is exactly what Christ does to us through His Word. He is the Good Shepherd who goes in search of the lost sheep (who are not seeking him) and when He finds him or her, he brings the little lamb back home on His mighty merciful shoulders. Thus even the faithful pray, “Bring me back that I may be restored, for you are the Lord my God.”

    “If we understand who and what God has revealed to us of Himself… IMO … grace becomes a treasured gift not to be taken lightly or abused”

    This is so true. And where do we go for such revelation? Not in the woods, or on a snow capped mountain, or in the white water rapids of a river, or in a pet, or anywhere else except in God’s Holy Word. His Church is given one commission: make disciples of all nations by baptizing and “teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.”

    Thus we are to teach the Scriptures, and may God bless us all with a delight in them. They not only contain the words of eternal life in Jesus Christ, the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world, but they are God’s words, and as such are effective to create a new being in Christ, just as “God said” and brought light into existence.

  19. Em says:

    Well, Jean, i would say that adjusting to the justice of God has absolutely zero self justification… But as you.unpack your defining of man’s coming to the end of himself and an acceptance of redemption on God’s terms, may you bring many to an understanding of this “unsoeakabke gift” from God

  20. Michael says:

    “And where do we go for such revelation? Not in the woods, or on a snow capped mountain, or in the white water rapids of a river, or in a pet, or anywhere else except in God’s Holy Word.”

    ““But ask the beasts, and they will teach you; the birds of the heavens, and they will tell you; or the bushes of the earth, and they will teach you; and the fish of the sea will declare to you. Who among all these does not know that the hand of the Lord has done this? In his hand is the life of every living thing and the breath of all mankind.”
    (Job 12:7–10 ESV)

    “The heavens declare the glory of God, and the sky above proclaims his handiwork. Day to day pours out speech, and night to night reveals knowledge. There is no speech, nor are there words, whose voice is not heard. Their voice goes out through all the earth, and their words to the end of the world.”
    (Psalms 19:1–4 ESV)

    “For what can be known about God is plain to them, because God has shown it to them.For his invisible attributes, namely, his eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly perceived, ever since the creation of the world, in the things that have been made.”
    (Romans 1:19–20 ESV)

    I do not damage the primacy of the Scriptures.
    However, words need interpretation and many of us differ greatly in how we interpret the written Word of God.
    The ways of God and the heart of God can be shown in nature…and yes, even in a pet.

  21. Jean says:

    The references to God’s revelation in nature are sufficient to reveal “his eternal power and divine nature,” (including that all die) but (and this is critically important) there is not promise in that revelation. No one can be saved by a natural revelation. There is no forgiveness of sins in a natural revelation. No one can learn of Christ and of his death for our sins and resurrection from the dead for our justification in a natural revelation.

    The ways of God include earthquakes, tsunamis, volcanoes, famines, pestilence, as well as shining sun, rain and for some bountiful crops. The ways of God revealed in nature bring us no peace, nor do they reveal a loving Creator. For that, one must turn to the Holy Scriptures and learn that Jesus reveals the heart of the Father and in Jesus alone the Father is gracious towards you.

  22. Michael says:

    As I said, no one doubts the primacy of Scripture and the fuller revelation it offers.
    However, neither will I limit what God can speak through other means.
    I see the ways of God and His love often in creation, but I live in God’s country…

  23. Em says:

    “Well, God, why didn’t you make yourself evident when i was a mortal down there? I spent a lot of time walking, meditating. You could have spoken to me and made me see you then!”
    I think God may well repeat Michael’s Scripture references, adding “You were looking for something pleasing to your own ego, but it wasn’t Me or you would have found Me.” . … dunno, tho, do i?

  24. Jean says:

    Michael,

    Do you think it’s possible that God may limit himself as to where and through whom he speaks to us to provide us with assurance that if we apprehend him in the manner and by the means he has promised that we are indeed grasping onto the the one and only God, and not one of the many idols and false gods that pervade creation and lead so many people worldwide to eternal destruction?

    I am willing to concede that Muslims, Jews, Buddhists, Hindus, and many others are very sincere and devout in their respective religions, but is the Bible true, when it says:

    “This Jesus is the stone that was rejected by you, the builders, which has become the cornerstone. And there is salvation in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved.”

    It seems pretty clear that the Bible makes the exclusive claim that (1) salvation is found in Christ alone, and (2) salvation is given through preaching the Gospel of Jesus Christ as defined in the Scriptures. I don’t see any wiggle room. Do you?

  25. Josh The Baptist says:

    Holding out hope for a God of Wiggle Room.

  26. Michael says:

    Jean,

    “Do you think it’s possible that God may limit himself as to where and through whom he speaks to us to provide us with assurance that if we apprehend him in the manner and by the means he has promised that we are indeed grasping onto the the one and only God, and not one of the many idols and false gods that pervade creation and lead so many people worldwide to eternal destruction?”

    No.

    What you call “wiggle room” I call hope.

    Hope that because the whole narrative of Scripture is about a cosmic rescue mission…that Jesus came to save the world and not to condemn it… that He came to seek and save the lost…that the result of God putting on human flesh, living perfectly among us, dying for us, and being resurrected that we may be also…that all of that means that God truly desires the salvation of all men…even those without bonded leather Bibles or holding erroneous beliefs.

    What you describe may be normative, but it need not be the final word…

  27. Michael says:

    Josh…good to see my favorite Baptist here!

  28. Duane Arnold says:

    I’m with Josh 😁! I’m also slightly bored with proof-texting…

  29. Jean says:

    Yes, it is very good! to see Josh here.

  30. Martin Luther's Disciple says:

    I must say Jesus and Paul are the biggest proof texters I know. I am a little lost why some here consider references to scripture as a negative but looking to nature and your cat as positive.

    I brought my 91 yr old unbelieving, lifelong non religious Jewish mother down here to spend 10 days during the holiday. I have not discussed things of Jesus with her in over 20 yrs and figured I would do so yesterday. She rejected (again) everything I said explaining to me she had her own religion and described all the features of her god based solely on her feelings, her emotions and her eyes. She too does not see any religious book as the final word.
    Happy New Year.

  31. Em says:

    I suspect that we will someday learn that those who reject the incarnation and the substitutionary atonement accomplished as described in the Christian Bible – those who prefer Buddha, Mohammed, even Abraham, as well as those who prefer no interpersonal God relationship – are those whose egos are their downfall (a looming danger for even us who chose to believe, perhaps)
    That leaves a grey area of souls who have never heard of Jehovah and i have to leave them to a God whom i am convinced is both holy and totally just… A severe, but gracious God…
    HOWEVER, i don’t think that leaves any wiggle room for saying, “gee, i didn’t understand my need for your redemption, God!” IMV – that is a far cry from saying, ” i guess i didn’t completely understand Your required religious practices, God. I tried….” To the latter, God will, i think, say, “I knew your heart and all is well.”

  32. Duane Arnold says:

    Michael

    I think someone just yelled at us to “get off the lawn”…

  33. Michael says:

    Duane,
    I’m good with that. 🙂
    Our diversity means everyone can landscape as they choose…

  34. Em says:

    MLD, if there is anyone reading your 1:59 with no ache in their hearts for you and your mother …. God forgive them … God forgive me for not praying for those who have dear ones rejecting the Faith

  35. Jean says:

    First Josh; now MLD! I can feel my sanctification progressing already. 🙂

  36. Martin Luther's Disciple says:

    Em, thanks for your concern. There is no heart ache on my part. This is not between me and my mother – it’s between her and God (whoever he or she may be). We have had a peaceful co existence these past 20 yrs as I have left witnessing to others (people whose existence I am unaware).
    Today I took a moment to take her spiritual temperature – to see if she would lift her head at the shepherd’s voice. I will check back in another 20 yrs – in the meantime we will enjoy the visit with no agitation on my part.

  37. bob1 says:

    5,4,3,2,1…

    And…he’s back!

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